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Billionaire Packer Snapped Brawling With TV Executive in Bondi

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May 5 (Bloomberg) -- James Packer, the billionaire chairman of casino company Crown Resorts Ltd., traded blows on a Bondi street yesterday with childhood friend David Gyngell, head of his former media company Nine Entertainment Co.

Photographs of the fight between Packer and Gyngell, his former flatmate and best man, were published today by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. The paper is owned by News Corp., co-chaired by Packer’s friend and former business partner Lachlan Murdoch.

In the images, shot outside Packer’s apartment facing Sydney’s Bondi Beach, Australia’s richest man is seen wrestling with a bearded and barefoot Gyngell. Another image shows Packer, wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, being restrained from throwing a right punch at Gyngell and treading on his foot.

“We have been friends for 35 years and still are,” Packer and Gyngell said in a joint statement released earlier today by Nine Entertainment. “In that time we have had our fair share of ups and down. We respect each other and neither of us will be commenting further.”

Reports of the fight were first published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper today. The paper reported that their friendship had soured after Packer separated from his second wife Erica last year, without saying where it got the information.

Nine Entertainment was set up by Packer’s grandfather Frank Packer, with Gyngell’s father Bruce presenting its first broadcast in 1956. Packer and Lachlan Murdoch were co-investors in collapsed internet company One.Tel and they shared a stake in Ten Network Holdings Ltd.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at anandk@bloomberg.net Edward Johnson, Michael Heath