The fallout from the release of the Bergin Report into Crown Resorts’ suitability to hold a NSW casino license has begun with two directors stepping down Wednesday morning.
Crown announced via an ASX filing that Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston – two of the three Board representatives from James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings Pty Ltd (CPH) – had resigned, cutting the current number of serving directors to eight.
It also suggests the Packer is already stepping back from Crown following scathing criticism from Commissioner Patricia Bergin in her report this week over the influence he had held over the company in recent years.
Packer holds a 36.8% stake in Crown via CPH.
According to a statement published by The Sydney Morning Herald, CPH has also immediately ended a consultancy agreement with the third Board member, John Poynton, who will instead look to remain with Crown as an independent director.
As a result, “CPH will have no involvement on the Crown board,” a CPH spokesman told the SMH.
“The issue of CPH’s representation on the Crown board, and future communications between those representatives and CPH, were potentially complex matters for ILGA [the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority] and Crown to resolve.
“The steps announced today take them off the table, giving Crown’s board clear air to work with ILGA in the execution of its announced reform agenda and become a model casino operator. CPH supports these efforts.”
The departure of Jalland and Johnston means that refreshment of Crown’s board is now well and truly underway following the retirement late last year of former Executive Chairman John Alexander. Another, John Horvath, has also promised to step down while it is likely the ongoing participation of two more – CEO Ken Barton and former Australian Football League (AFL) boss Andrew Demetriou – is now untenable after they were singled out in the Bergin Report alongside Johnston.
“It is suggested that in the circumstances of the findings against Mr Barton, Mr Johnston and Mr Demetriou, the Authority would be justified in entertaining very serious doubts that Crown could be converted into a suitable person under the Casino Control Act whilst they remain as directors,” Bergin wrote.
In what may well have been an eye to upcoming change, Crown last month announced the appointment of former Skycity Entertainment Group CEO Nigel Morrison as a new non-executive director.