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Packer Packs B2B Punch in Investment Vehicle

Australia's richest man, Kerry Packer, has just become significantly richer, as most of his stock holdings have appreciated in the wake of an announcement that one of his companies would be turned into an investment vehicle for business-to-business e-commerce ventures.

FXF Trust was previously a holding company for Packer's minority shareholding in major Australian newspaper and Internet publisher, John Fairfax Ltd. It has now doubled in value since Tuesday after it was revealed that the company would be renamed CPH Investment Corporation.

As part of the plans, CPH Investment will raise AUS$600 million (US$360 million) in a secondary float, managed by Merrill Lynch, with the option to sell off a further AUS$160 million (US$96 million) in equity in the case of oversubscription for shares.

Kerry Packer and his son James are among four new additions to the board of the company, which he will control through majority ownership retained by a Packer shelf company called CPH Holdings.

CPH Investments will also float a spin-off company, which will be part-owned by CPH Holdings, to "pursue 100 per cent of all of the CPH Group's new B2B investment opportunities", according to a statement released to the ASX on Sunday. The company said it expects the offer to open in early April and hit eh ASX in late May.

"The rationale for the proposal is to provide unitholders and others, including the public, with an avenue to invest in opportunities which are not currently available to the public or through PBL or ecorp," said the company in the statement.

The share prices of Packer's main companies, Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd and Australian Consolidated Press, have recorded modest gains as a flow-on effect form the goodwill of the FXF turnaround.