Crown Resorts Executive Chairman Helen Coonan has officially stepped down from the board of Crown Resorts with the appointment of veteran telco executive Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO as her replacement, pending regulatory approvals.
News of Coonan’s departure comes as no great surprise with Crown’s lawyer, Michael Borsky, having hinted as much during his recent closing submissions to Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne’s suitability to retain its casino license.
According to a Thursday release, Coonan will retire from the Board and as Executive Chairman as of 27 August 2021, with Non-Executive Director Jane Halton to act as interim Chairman until Dr Switkowski receives necessary approvals.
Crown described Dr Switkowski as one of Australia’s most experienced corporate leaders, having held roles as chairman and non-executive director of ASX-listed companies and national organisations following an executive career which included CEO appointments at Telstra and Optus. Based in Melbourne, he is currently Non-Executive Chairman of NBN Co and Chancellor of RMIT University.
“It has been a privilege to serve on the Crown Board and more recently as Executive Chairman driving a transformation of the culture, governance and compliance of what is a unique Australian company,” said Coonan, who assumed the position of Executive Chairman in March following the departure of CEO Ken Barton.
“My aim has been to stabilise and strengthen the business following the recommendations of the Bergin inquiry and set Crown on the reform path now being embedded across our world-class assets in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. I have always sought to act in the best interests of Crown and endeavoured to consider the impact on our shareholders, customers, and employees. I am confident the Board’s selection of Ziggy as Chairman will reinforce the organisation-wide commitment to our reform program.
“I would like to acknowledge the directors for their support and hard work at a time of rapid change on the Board. The Board’s view has always been a smooth succession was in the best interest of the business. With an experienced management team in place supported by a high-calibre Board, Crown is firmly on a pathway to rebuild trust and positioned for success over the long term. I’m excited by the opportunities for the business with our premium integrated resorts underpinned by best-practice governance and a culture absolutely aligned to our social licence to operate.”
Dr Switkowski said, “I look forward to joining the Crown Board and working with Board colleagues, CEO Steve McCann, and Crown employees to grow value for shareholders by continuing the urgent work to reform the business.”
Royal Commissioner Ray Finkelstein is expected to hand down his recommendations surrounding Crown Melbourne’s future by mid-October.