Fri. Nov 18th, 2022

I did not take this position lightly but the board concluded the approach would provide leadership, stability and certainty at an important time, Ms Coonan said.
Let me be clear: I do not see myself as executive chairman for an extended tenure.
She emphasised it often took months to replace CEOs and indicated the company would need to find three new board members who would need to pass probity tests after Guy Jalland, Michael Johnston and Andrew Demetriou resigned last week.
Ms Coonan did not rule out staying on the board once a new CEO is found.
Uncertain future
The gaming giant now faces an uncertain future with a full-blown royal commission in Western Australia and an inquiry in Victoria into its suitability to run lucrative casinos in both states following Ms Bergins scathing report which found Crown unsuitable to hold a gambling licence in NSW.
Australias financial intelligence regulator, AUSTRAC, has also launched a money-laundering investigation, which Ms Coonan said could take years to resolve.
Ms Coonan will be in charge of overhauling the company to make it suitable to hold a gambling licence in NSW. The task includes appointing several key roles including heads of human resources and internal audit as well as major reviews into accountability and culture. The companys new chief financial crimes officer, Steven Blackburn, will start in two weeks.
Crown will also need to swiftly appoint a new general counsel and company secretary as a contact point for the NSW regulator and to co-ordinate responses to WA and Victorian probes after Mary Manos resigned on Thursday.
Ms Coonan also wants an internal review of how Crown treated Jenny Jiang, one of the 19 staff in China arrested in 2016, whom Crown tried to discredit via an ASX statement and advertisement in 2019.
Ms Coonan defended her $1.8 million pay rise as the gambling giant backed by James Packer sank to a $120 million loss in the December half and revenue collapsed 62 per cent to $581 million.
I assume that you think its appropriate that executives are paid, she said.
What my remuneration is was something that was arrived at by an independent remuneration consultant. It had nothing to do with me.
Disastrous influence
Ms Bergins report, released last Tuesday, found Crown had facilitated money laundering through its bank accounts at Southbank in Melbourne and Perth, disregarded the welfare of its China-based staff before several were arrested in 2016, and partnered with junket operators linked to organised crime.
Commissioner Bergin singled out major shareholder Mr Packer, who holds a 37 per cent stake, telling Crown if it ever wanted to become suitable to hold a licence the company had to curb the disastrous influence of Mr Packer, who demonstrated an intolerable indifference to keeping Crowns casinos free from criminal influence and exploitation.
Mr Packers board representatives, Mr Johnston and Mr Jalland, resigned last week. His company Consolidated Press Holdings also ceased engagement with its third board nominee, John Poynton, but Ms Coonan flagged he was not yet considered independent under Crowns charter.
The NSW gaming regulator has flagged there will be further queries made into whether Mr Poynton is truly independent and suitable for the Crown board.
Ms Coonan revealed she had spoken to Mr Packer only once since the report was released and he would be dealt with as a normal shareholder.
She rejected suggestions that her history as a federal minister who helped the Packers will influence the way she attempts to steer Crown clear of the taint of being found unfit to run a casino in Sydney.
Dividend scrapped
Ms Coonan said it was a big leap when asked if she was the right person to overhaul the culture of Crown given the Packers appointed her to the board after her tenure as Minister for Communications in the Howard government, which deregulated media ownership laws in a way that benefited the family.
Actions I took, that were industry-wide and benefited the whole industry … theres absolutely no nexus between any of those reforms and, after leaving Parliament, accepting a position on Crown, she said.
The $6.9 billion casino giant also scrapped its dividend after posting massive losses following COVID-19 lockdowns, a blow to Mr Packer, who owns 37 per cent of the company.
Moodys ratings agency analyst Maadhavi Barber acknowledged Crown Resorts first-half 2021 results were severely affected by coronavirus restrictions on the gaming sector and Crown Melbourne its largest revenue generator was closed for most of the reporting period.
During the half, Crown Perth recorded $24.7 million in JobKeeper subsidies for employees who worked in either a full or partial capacity and $9.0 million in JobKeeper amounts that were paid in their entirety to Crowns employees who were stood down, the companys half-year results said.
But Moodys is upbeat about Crowns credit profile, supported by a solid liquidity profile and upcoming receipts of Crown Sydneys apartment sales.
Still, Crowns gaming operations remain exposed to risks from ongoing investigations by regulators in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, as well as AUSTRAC.
The companys reform agenda seeks to address issues identified by regulators and authorities. However, we consider some of the remediation steps and actions will be onerous for Crown.
Crown shares closed steady at $9.73.