Embattled casino operator Crown Resorts has named a new chief executive.
The Age reports that outgoing Lendlease boss Steve McCann has been named as Crown’s new CEO, in the midst of an ongoing regulatory crisis that threatens its gambling licences in three states.
Crown’s previous CEO, Ken Barton, resigned in February, along with five Crown directors in the wake of the Bergin inquiry, which found the company was unfit to run its new Sydney casino.
Chairman Helen Coonan has been filling the role as executive chairman, which will continue until McCann receives the necessary probity approvals to start the job.
“Steve is a first-class appointment for Crown and the right person to embed the ongoing reforms necessary to restore regulatory and public confidence in our operations,” Ms Coonan said.
“Steve has a unique blend of strategic, financial and corporate governance expertise and a track record of building strong employee engagement and driving cultural change.”
Ms Coonan said Mr McCann was “ideally placed to hit the ground running as our sweeping reform program takes hold.”
Mr McCann has been CEO of property giant Lendlease for a decade and delayed his retirement from the group to oversee its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is set to step down on May 31.
“I am really looking forward to joining Crown at a crucial time for the organisation and see a real opportunity to help drive significant shareholder value as the company addresses its challenges and emerges from the constraints of the pandemic,” he said.
Barton and directors stepped down in February
An investigation commissioned by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority concluded Crown was unsuitable to operate a licence for its new Sydney casino in its current form.
A report by Commissioner Patricia Bergin found there was likely no future in the company for Mr Barton.
Mr Barton said in a statement he was committed to assisting with a leadership transition.
“I am absolutely certain the business is now on the right path as it works to restore confidence in its operations,” he said.
Mr Barton has spent more than a decade with Crown, initially as its chief financial officer before being appointed as CEO in January 2020 as the Bergin inquiry began.
During his time at Crown he was also the director of two VIP bank accounts at the centre of money laundering allegations.
Commissioner Bergin found Mr Barton was “no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee”.
“His problems will not be cured by the appointment of people expert in the field who report to him,” she said.
Bergin found Mr Barton should have launched a full investigation into money laundering allegations by the time the inquiry began.
Mr Barton was also accused of misleading shareholders at an annual general meeting in 2018 when he said “general” information was being shared between Crown and James Packer’s company Consolidated Press Holdings, when in reality that information was confidential.
“Mr Barton’s conduct at the Annual General Meeting in October 2019 as the CFO of Crown was quite improper,” the report stated.
“However, his attempts in the witness box on September 23, 2020 to justify his conduct were even more inappropriate for the CEO and director of Crown and director of the licensee.
“It demonstrated a serious lack of judgment and insight into the expectation of the highest standards of property, candour and cooperation of a director of a company that holds a casino licence.”
In February, three Crown directors, Andrew Demetriou, Michael Johnston and Guy Jalland also resigned, allowing the company to mount an ambitious reform program, according to Ms Coonan.
Mr Packer’s CPH cut its ties with Crown’s board after terminating its consultancy contract with non-executive board member John Poynton.
Ms Connan last week apologised for the company’s shortcomings and said the criticism by the regulator was warranted.
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