* Board reshuffle adds James Packer, new Chairman John
* Company says it will focus on Australia, not global
* Crown has already forecast 45 pct hit to Australian VIP
* Crown shares drop 2.1 percent
(Adds share price reaction, detail of reshuffle and background)
By Tom Westbrook
SYDNEY, Jan 10 Crown Resorts Ltd's
biggest shareholder, Australian billionaire James Packer, will
return to the board, weeks after the casino group effectively
scrapped ambitious global plans and retreated from Las Vegas and
Packer had left the board just over a year ago to focus on
the international expansion, and returns as part of a broader
executive reshuffle designed in part to ease investor concerns
about the direction of the Crown group.
Crown, which has focused its gaming strategy on Asia's
richest gamblers, has been battered by China's anti-corruption
drive and now its efforts to control capital flight.
In December, it scrapped plans to build a casino in Nevada,
said it would sell half its stake in Macau-focused Melco Crown
Entertainment Ltd and cancelled plans to spin off its
Packer is a 48 percent shareholder, having cut his stake
from 53 percent in August 2016.
Crown said in a statement that the group would now focus on
its core assets in Australia, where it has casinos in Melbourne
and Perth and another soon to be built in Sydney.
But questions remain among analysts and investors over
Crown's growth, even as he reasserts control and focuses on home
turf. Crown shares dropped as much as 2.1 percent in morning
trade, underperforming a weaker broader market.
"I think the local growth plan would be very limited ... I
don't see a growth story there," said Mathan Somasundaram, a
strategist with stockbroker Baillieu Holst.
Crown will report 2016 earnings on Feb. 23. It has already
warned of a 45 percent slump in VIP turnover for the six months
to December at its Australian casinos.
As part of the broader reshuffle, Robert Rankin will step
down as chairman to be replaced by long-time Packer lieutenant
John Alexander on Feb. 1, the company said in a statement.
Rankin would remain on the board.
Rankin also stepped down as chief executive of Packer's
private company, Consolidated Press Holdings.
($1 = 1.3585 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Stephen Coates)