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Crown Menunjuk Carter sebagai Direktur di Tengah Shakeup

Crown Resorts Limited telah membuat banyak perubahan manajemen dan organisasi akhir-akhir ini. Itu terjadi pada saat yang sama ketika Crown menyerahkan pernyataan penutupnya di Komisi Kerajaan Victoria ke dalam Crown dan kegiatannya. Dengan komisi itu diharapkan untuk membuat keputusannya dan mengungkapkan temuannya pada 15 Oktober, Crown tampaknya sedang mempersiapkan hasilnya.

Perubahan Manajemen Awal 2021

Pada akhir Januari 2021, Crown Resorts mengumumkan penunjukan Nigel Morrison sebagai direktur non-eksekutif Dewan Direksi Crown. Morrison telah menghabiskan lebih dari 20 tahun di industri perjudian di kawasan Asia-Pasifik, terakhir sebagai kepala eksekutif di SkyCity Entertainment Group.

“Dewan menyambut baik kontribusi Nigel saat kami terus melaksanakan program reformasi kami dan mewujudkan tujuan strategis kami yang lain,” kata Ketua Crown saat itu Helen Coonan.

Sekitar dua minggu kemudian, Direktur Mahkota Guy Jalland dan Michael Johnson mengundurkan diri. Direktur Crown dan Ketua Crown Melbourne Andrew Demetriou menyusul beberapa hari kemudian.

Pada saat yang sama, hanya tiga hari menyangkal laporan media bahwa Ken Barton mengundurkan diri dari Crown, Ken Barton mengundurkan diri dari Crown. Dia segera meninggalkan posisinya sebagai CEO dan Managing Director, meskipun dia berkomitmen untuk membantu transisi yang mulus. Coonan melangkah untuk menjadi Ketua Eksekutif sementara.

Dewan Umum dan Sekretaris Perusahaan Mary Manos mengundurkan diri hari itu juga. Crown CFO Alan McGregor masuk sebagai Sekretaris sementara. Sebagian alasannya adalah karena Crown ingin membagi posisi Sekretaris menjadi dua peran terpisah.

Masih di bulan Februari, Direktur Harold Mitchell mengundurkan diri. Dan pada 1 Maret, Direktur John Poynton mengikuti keluar pintu. Yang terakhir tampaknya dipaksa oleh Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) karena hubungan masa lalu Poynton dengan James Packer.

Perubahan Berlanjut saat Musim Berubah

Morrison pindah ke Direktur pada bulan April. Bruce Carter kemudian pindah ke peran Direktur Non-Eksekutif.

May menyampaikan penunjukan Crown atas Steve McCann sebagai CEO dan Managing Director Crown yang baru, berlaku efektif 1 Juni. “Steve adalah penunjukan kelas satu untuk Crown dan orang yang tepat untuk menanamkan reformasi berkelanjutan yang diperlukan untuk memulihkan kepercayaan regulasi dan publik dalam operasi kami,” komentar Coonan. “Dewan sedang mencari CEO yang berkomitmen kuat untuk membangun momentum perubahan dalam bisnis kami, dan Steve berada di tempat yang ideal untuk mulai menjalankan program reformasi menyeluruh kami.”

Pada 3 Agustus, Xavier Walsh mengundurkan diri – efektif 20 Agustus – sebagai CEO Crown Melbourne.

Lebih dari dua minggu kemudian, Crown mengumumkan bahwa McCann akan menjadi CEO Crown Melbourne serta tetap menjadi CEO dari keseluruhan Crown Resorts. Sebagai bagian dari kesepakatan itu, McCann setuju untuk pindah dari Sydney ke Melbourne.

Satu minggu setelah itu, Coonan pensiun dari Dewan dan peran Ketua Eksekutif sementaranya. Crown memutuskan untuk menunjuk Dr. Ziggy Switkowski untuk mengambil alih peran Ketua. “Saya yakin pemilihan Dewan Ziggy sebagai Ketua akan memperkuat komitmen seluruh organisasi untuk program reformasi kami,” kata Coonan.

Bersamaan dengan itu, persetujuan peraturan memungkinkan Carter untuk secara resmi mengambil peran sebagai Direktur Mahkota yang ditunjuk pada bulan April.

Penutupan Mahkota ke Victoria, Bagian Satu

Dalam upaya untuk menghasilkan beberapa bacaan ringan, Crown Resorts, bersama dengan Crown Melbourne, menyerahkan pengajuan penutup setebal 363 halaman kepada Komisi Kerajaan Victoria pada 2 Agustus. Poin-poin utama, bagaimanapun, dapat dipecah melalui ikhtisar yang berfungsi sebagai pengantar makalah.

  • Mereka menyadari bahwa komisi tersebut mengungkap “banyak kegagalan, termasuk pelanggaran hukum, dalam pengoperasian kasino Melbourne.” Akibatnya, kepercayaan dan kepercayaan masyarakat turun. “Crown meminta maaf atas kegagalan itu dan berkomitmen untuk melakukan segala daya untuk memperbaiki kegagalan itu dan mendapatkan kembali kepercayaan dan kepercayaan.”
  • Mereka setuju bahwa pemantau atau pengawas independen harus mengawasi implementasi reformasi dan inisiatif Crown dari rekomendasi akhir Komisi. Orang itu harus memiliki “kekuasaan luas untuk memeriksa operasi dan urusan Crown.” Dan Crown akan membayarnya.
  • “Crown Melbourne adalah orang yang cocok untuk terus memegang lisensi kasino” karena reformasi yang ada dan yang akan berlangsung di bawah pengawasan independen.
  • Jika Komisi menemukan bahwa Crown Melbourne tidak boleh mempertahankan lisensinya, Crown akan menerima keputusan itu. Tetapi mereka kemudian ingin tahu bagaimana menjadi cocok.
  • Perusahaan mengakui bahwa struktur dan budaya sebelumnya lebih mengutamakan keuntungan daripada etika, norma, legalitas, dan harapan. Dengan demikian, Crown sedang menjalani “reformasi grosir” untuk memperbaiki semuanya. Itu termasuk perubahan manajemen dan eksekutif yang disebutkan di atas.
  • Mereka ingin Komisi mempertimbangkan perilaku masa lalu perusahaan dengan perilaku saat ini dan masa depan per reformasi.

Tinjauan berlanjut dengan total 40 poin utama. Selain poin di atas, dokumen tersebut juga membahas tata kelola dan risiko, tindakan anti pencucian uang, cara lain untuk memerangi pengaruh dan perilaku kriminal di Crown Melbourne, perjudian yang bertanggung jawab, bonus jackpot, dan penanganan di masa depan dengan Komisi Perjudian dan Minuman Keras Victoria. Peraturan.

Penutupan Mahkota ke Victoria, Bagian Kedua

Bagian kedua dari closing submission hanya empat halaman. Crown menyerahkan tambahan ini ke dokumen asli satu minggu setelah yang pertama.

Topik diskusi adalah kewajiban atau izin Crown untuk menyewakan kembali Crown Melbourne. Intinya, mereka menegaskan bahwa, jika Victoria mencabut lisensi kasino, mereka dapat menyewakan kembali ke operator kasino baru dengan lisensi permainannya sendiri. Namun, Crown akan tetap mengendalikan bagian-bagian properti non-kasino.

Cepat dan Tunggu

Setelah semua kesaksian dan pertanyaan, perubahan dan pengajuan, Crown Resorts sekarang harus menunggu jawaban.

Komisi Kerajaan Victoria harus melaporkan temuannya kepada Gubernur pada atau sebelum 15 Oktober tahun ini. Menunggu itu agak minimal.

Di sisi lain, mengenai lisensi game Crown di Australia Barat untuk Crown Perth, itu akan memakan waktu lebih lama. Komisi Kerajaan Kasino Perth memulai penyelidikannya pada Maret 2021, di bawah pengawasan Yang Terhormat Neville Owen, Lindy Jenkins, dan Colin Murphy sebagai Komisaris Kerajaan. Mereka memang menyampaikan laporan sementara kepada Gubernur dan Perdana Menteri pada tanggal 30 Juni, dan Parlemen Australia Barat mengajukan laporan tersebut pada tanggal 3 Agustus. Batas akhir laporan akhir adalah 4 Maret 2022.

Laporan awal di Perth memaparkan kesaksian tetapi tidak menyerahkan temuan atau rekomendasi apa pun, meminta untuk menundanya hingga laporan akhir hingga tahun depan.

 

 

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Money laundering suspected at Crown as recently as February

Victoria’s royal commission into Crown Resorts has heard that money laundering was suspected at the casino as recently as February.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that criminal infiltration is suspected to be greater than previously thought, with suspected money laundering identified in 14 new bank accounts that were not examined in last year’s damning Bergin inquiry.

Commissioner Ray Finkelstein, QC, will have to decide on Crown’s suitability to hold its Melbourne casino licence without knowing the full extent of its money laundering problems, the inquiry was told, because the company delayed launching an investigation of its bank account until February.

“Had Crown started that review any earlier than February this year, the results would be known to this commission,” counsel assisting Meg O’Sullivan said.

Crown had delayed launching a full review of its accounts despite its banks warning of suspicious transactions in 2014; reports in August 2019 about money laundering in its accounts; and advice from an external expert to launch a full review in 2019 and again in late 2020.

The Bergin inquiry in NSW found Crown was unfit to run its new Sydney casino, with a key reason being that it facilitated money laundering through two patron deposit bank accounts held through shell companies called Southbank Investments and Riverbank Investments.

Ms O’Sullivan said the review currently underway by Deloitte into Crown’s other accounts would reveal if money laundering in those accounts were “just the tip of the iceberg”.

The inquiry heard on Monday that Crown did initially approach Katherine Shamai, an anti-money laundering expert at Grant Thornton, to run a review of its bank accounts in August 2019.

But she did not hear from Crown again until October 2020, when it asked her to review only the Southbank and Riverbank accounts.

She found more than $5 million of suspected criminal transactions between 2013 and 2019.

Crown engaged firms to look into alleged money laundering

Ms Shamai told the inquiry Crown’s lawyers MinterEllison then asked her in January 2021 to begin a review of other accounts linked to Crown’s Melbourne and Perth casinos.

This was two months after Crown told the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation such a review was already underway, Ms O’Sullivan said.

However, Ms Shamai said that in February Crown’s new lawyers Allens told her to cease the almost completed investigation because it was engaging another party to complete the work.

Crown instructed Ms Shamai to only conduct her search of its accounts to a limited number of “typologies” that could indicate illegal behaviour, meaning they could not be called a “full search”, she said.

Ms Shamai could offer no reason why Crown would limit her investigation if it was serious about rooting out examples of suspicious transactions.

Crown is undergoing what it calls a “reform” process to try and improve its money launder controls and governance to win back its Sydney casino licence.

But Ms O’Sullivan told the commission that external experts had already found some of Crown’s new anti-money laundering controls to be deficient, which she raised “serious concerns about Crown’s ability to implement consistent, effective and sustainable reforms to address its past money laundering failures”.

“It’s open to be concluded that Crown’s first steps on its pathway are simply a knee-jerk reaction to the revelations of the Bergin inquiry,” she said.

“Even the supposed new and improved Crown had continuing anti-money laundering problems.”

The inquiry, which must report back by August 1, continues this week.

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Crown anti-money laundering training called into question

Training about the perils of money laundering was only given to members of Crown Resorts board two months ago, the Victorian royal commission into the besieged casino operator has heard.

The Australian Financial Review reports that the first time Crown Resorts directors received anti-money laundering training in person was last March.

Before that, the training was conducted online.

Giving evidence at the royal commission examining the suitability of Crown Resorts to operate its Melbourne casino, Crown’s head of anti-money laundering, Nick Stokes, said: “I believe the only training they had received was the online module,” which could take as little as 30 minutes.

I believe the only training they had received was the online module,” Stokes claimed.

Mr Stokes, who joined Crown in November 2019 following media revelations of money laundering linked to Crown’s junket programs, said the recent face-to-face training was run by Steven Blackburn, Crown’s new chief compliance and financial crimes officer.

Mr Stokes said when he joined Crown he had to copy in the chief executive, Ken Barton, to request more resources to beef up the anti-money laundering program.

“My direct supervisor at the time, former general counsel Josh Preston, didn’t believe that we needed the amount of resources that I was after,” he said.

Victoria’s royal commission was sparked by the NSW Bergin inquiry, which found Crown unfit to open its Sydney casino because it had facilitated the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars via its partnerships with junket operators with links to criminal gangs and triads.

Crown announced its decision to axe junket partnership last Wednesday, the evening before the group was due to front the royal commission for the first time over its failure to prevent money laundering and criminal infiltration via its junket program.

Junkets are organised by gambling tours for foreign VIP high-rollers.

Royal commissioner Ray Finkelstein cast doubt on whether Crown’s decision to axe junkets at its Melbourne casino would be enough to prevent organised crime and money laundering from reinfiltrating the casino giant.

He flagged concerns that high-rollers previously linked to junket operators would now be dispersed and could just turn up at Crown to launder money unless Crown committed to doing deep background checks on them.

Mr Finkelstein asked Murray Lawson, the Deloitte consultant hired by Crown to examine its money laundering risks, if the players previously linked to junkets would effectively be put on a watch list because they were higher risk.

All the players who…previously came here through a junket operator…Crown is likely to go and chase them directly – that makes business sense?” Commissioner Finkelstein asked.

“Possibly,” Dr Lawson said, adding it would depend on the kind of new customer relationship Crown had with them, indicating they could be folded into standard anti-money laundering checks done on regular players.

Dr Lawson told the commission Crown withheld due diligence reports on key junket operators linked to organised crime from him when he was examining its anti-money laundering systems in 2020.

The reports, on junket operators linked to organised crime such as Alvin Chau’s Suncity and another operator, convicted criminal Song Zezhai, were deemed “too sensitive” by Crown former top legal counsel, Josh Preston, to be subject to review.

Counsel assisting, Penny Neskovcin, QC, told the inquiry in her opening remarks that Suncity produced a turnover at Crown Melbourne that “exceeded’ $20.5 billion in the 2015-18 financial years.

Overall, Crown’s revenue from junkets in the 2017 financial year was approximately $200 million, in 2018 it was $400 million and in 2019 it dropped to $300 million, she said.

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Crown shareholders request the operator to contemplate takeover bids

Crown Resorts shareholders are rumbling for the embattled casino operator to start a formal sale process.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the casino group received a $12 billion merger proposal from its Sydney rival The Star in recent weeks, while US private equity group Blackstone also upped its takeover bid from $8 billion to $8.3 billion.

The Helen Coonan-led board of Crown has so far remained tight-lipped on the takeover speculation, while shareholders are eager for a deal to happen.

Crown’s third largest shareholder, Perpetual, owner of about eight per cent of Crown’s share, just behind suitor Blackstone (10 per cent) and James Packer (37 per cent), which has called the company to immediately start a fast-tracked sale process.

Wilson Asset Management portfolio manager John Ayoub agreed that Crown should open a data room and invite bidders to inspect its books now to get the best deal for shareholders.

“You’ve got multiple parties coming to the table, we would like to see them canvassing as many opinions as they can,” said Mr Ayoub, whose fund owns shares in both Crown and The Star.

“Silence has been their tactic to date and it’s smoked out tw or three potential bidders.

“I think going forward, providing a data room and a transparent and open process is going to be the most beneficial thing for shareholders to see where value can be realised.”

US buyout fund Oaktree has also offered Crown $3 billion in funding to selectively buy back some or all of James Packer’s shares.

Sydney fund manager VGI Partners, which owns around $40 million of Crown shares and a smaller amount of The Star, said it saw the merger as “fair and reasonable and hope that the Crown board will engage with Star.”

“While we think the Blackstone and Oaktree bids materially undervalued Crown and the merger proposal from Star is…a lot more interesting and appealing to us,” VGI executive chairman Rob Luciano said.

“As long-term investors, we’d prefer to keep our capital invested in a great asset that can continue to compound over time and create meaningful shareholder value rather than sell for a quick profit.”

Mr Luciano said that Crown and Star had both recently completed a period of significant capital investment, setting up a merged entity to be highly cash flow generative that could de leverage quickly and then start delivering material shareholder returns.

Crown fields offers from multiple bidders

Blackstone is offering more up-front cash for Crown shareholders in its takeover bid ($12.35) but most market analysts say that The Star’s nil-premium cash-and-scrip merger will deliver more value through the COVID-19 recovery, if it delivers on promised cost savings.

The Star’s proposal is to buy back up to a quarter of Crown’s share at 412.50.

Shareholders in both companies would be issued stock in the new company as a swap rate of 2.68 Star shares for each Crown share.

The Star says that it could find $150-200 million worth of annual savings by merging with Crown, worth around $2 billion in equity value, which makes it offer worth $14 a share.

The Star’s CEO Matt Bekier also flagged this week he would look for a further windfall by selling and leasing back the merger group’s property portfolio, which would span two casinos in Melbourne, two in Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth.

It is increasingly common in the casino and hotel industry to split up the ownership and operation of properties, with Blackstone involved in such a deal with MGM in Las Vegas and is considered by analysts and investors as a possible property partner with The Star if the merger goes ahead.

Crown shares closed at $13.04 on Friday, up 2.3 per cent for the day and up 7.6 per cent since The Star’s proposal was revealed a week ago.

The Star’s shares closed 2.8 per cent higher Friday and are up one per cent for the week at $4.06.

 

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Blackstone’s bid for Crown Resorts is formally rejected

Crown Resorts has formally rejected a takeover offer from one of its potential suitors.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Blackstone’s takeover offer, valued at $8.3 billion, has been rejected, but The Star’s merger proposal remains in play.

The James Packer-backed casino operator told the ASX that the US private equity firm’s revised offer of $12.35 a share, up from the initial offer of $11.85, still “undervalued” the company and was “not in the best interests of shareholders”.

Stock in the company edged up 0.28 per cent $13.07 in mid-morning trade on Monday.

The rejection of the Blackstone offer came moments before public hearings commenced at Victoria’s royal commission into Crown’s suitability to hold a licence at its Melbourne casino on Monday morning.

The Victorian probe was sparked by the NSW Bergin inquiry, which found the company unfit to open its $2.2 billion Barangaroo casino because the company facilitated the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars linked up with Asian triads via its high roller junket program.

The Crown board, led by executive chairman Helen Coonan, concluded Blackstone’s offer was inadequate after taking “considered feedback from shareholders” and advice from financial and legal advisers.

The board also said it believed Blackstone faced significant uncertainty as to the timing and outcome of the regulatory approval processes.

Crown said Blackstone’s revised proposal “as currently understood presented an unacceptable level of regulatory uncertainty for Crown shareholders.”

The decision comes days after Perpetual’s head of equities urged Crown to open its data room to kick off the formal sale process on Thursday.

Perpetual holds eight per cent of the company.

Crown Board cools off Blackstone takeover talks

Mr Packer, who has not made public comments on the takeover or merger proposals, holds 37 per cent of Crown’s stock.

But the “board unanimously concluded that the Revised Proposal undervalues Crown and is not in the best interests of Crown’s shareholders”, the company said.

“The board has had regard to discussions with Blackstone and various legal authorities. The board has considered feedback from shareholders.”

Blackstone’s timeline for gaining regulatory approval from the NSW gaming regulator also played into the board’s decision to reject the offer.

“Despite Blackstone’s modification of these conditions, the board believes there is significant uncertainty as to the timing and outcome of the regulatory approval processes.

“As a result, the conditions of the revised proposal as currently understood present an unacceptable level of regulatory uncertainty for Crown shareholders,” the company said.

Separately, Crown Resorts also told the market it was still assessing The Star merger proposal and “has requested Star to provide certain information to allow the Crown Board to better understand various preliminary matters.”

The company advised shareholders it did not need to take any action in relation to the merger proposal at this stage because “there is no certainty that the merger proposal will result in a transaction.”

In mid-April, investment company Oaktree proposed to takeover Crown, with details of an investment funding of nearly $3 billion to Crown in order to buy back “some or all” of the shares held by CPH.

Oaktree would “provide a funding commitment of up to A$3 billion to Crown via a structured instrument, with the proceeds to be used by Crown to buy back some or all of the Crown shares, which are held by CPH on a selective basis.”

CPH holds a share ownership in Crown of about 37 per cent, making Mr Packer the largest investor in the nation’s largest gaming group.

Mr Packer’s influence over the Crown board as majority shareholder has been scrutinised by a NSW probe into the casino that determined the company was not suitable to hold a gaming licence in the state because of evidence of mismanagement and money laundering.

Findings from the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry also found Mr Packer was not a suitable person to be associated with the casino.

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Victorian royal commission into Crown kicks off

It’s been another chaotic week for Crown Resorts, who have named a new chief executive, fielded a merger bid from rival Star Entertainment and are in the midst of two royal commissions in separate states.

WA Today reports that a bidding war is underway for Crown and its sprawling properties in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

That adds to an already massive workload for current board chair and acting CEO Helen Coonan, who tries to rebuild Crown’s management, board and reputation after last year’s Bergin Inquiry in New South Wales eviscerated all three.

Crown Resorts selling assets to cover debt

Crown is still working towards opening the casino at its new Sydney tower after its licence was suspended when former supreme court judge Patricia Bergin confirmed, among other things, reported that Crown had facilitated money laundering at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

The Victorian government slapped it with a $1 million fine last month for failing to check its high roller “junket” tour partners for criminal links and that could pale in comparison to a potential penalty from financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC’s investigation into money laundering breaches.

Now Crown is preparing to be grilled again, simultaneously, at two royal commissions that will ceide if it is fit to keep its Melbourne and Perth casino licences.

NSW gambling boss gives update on Crown Sydney opening

West Australia’s commission has just commenced hearings, while Victoria’s commences on Monday.

There are questions about how many balls Coonan, who ended up running Crown as the last person standing after Bergin cut a swathe through the group, can keep in the air at once.

At least the future of Crown Sydney has become clearer when NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chairman Philip Crawford said he was “confident” he would give Crown the all-clear to finally open the gaming rooms at the new $2.2 billion Barangaroo tower by the end of October.

It was supposed to open in December 2020.

Crawford, who was obliged by the sweetheart deal Crown signed with the NSW government in 2014 to work with Crown to try to restore its licence rather than just take it away, said he was “amazed” by what Coonan had achieved in the past four months by installing new people, systems and a new culture in the company.

I didn’t know in February, whether they would get the licence back…the old management, I reckon, wanted to fight,” he said.

But even as the regulatory storm in NSW is easing, royal commission clouds are gathering in Victoria and WA.

In Victoria, respected former judge Ray Finkelstein was given a tight timeframe of needing to report back by August 1 and was instructed to avoid “unnecessarily duplicating” Bergin’s work.

But Finkelstein is diving deeply into the same thorny issues of money laundering and criminal infiltration that prompted NSW to suspend Crown’s licence.

Requests from the two royal commissions for thousands of documents have sent Crown’s law firm Allens and a raft of advisers into overdrive, with one person familiar with the work saying it is a “logistical nightmare”.

“It’s putting everyone under a massive amount of pressure,” the legal source said.

“The financial services royal commission wasn’t just about one bank.”

There is a risk the royal commission will uncover evidence of wrongdoing that Bergin did not find in her probe.

Finkelstein has said the “most important” area of his inquiry is one Bergin didn’t touch at all: how Crown deals address gambling addiction, something critics have long said Crown has failed to do properly.

“They’re the biggest gambling harm production factory in the country,” gambling academic Charles Livingstone said.

“On a systematic basis, people are being encouraged to gamble way beyond their means at levels which are quite unimaginable to ordinary people, and Crown is being rewarded to do it.”

 

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Steve McCann becomes new Crown CEO

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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Crown Sydney could open in October with cashless gaming

A potential opening date has been floated for Crown Sydney’s casino at Barangaroo.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Crown Resorts would open its Barangaroo casino before the end of October and has agreed to work with the state’s regulator to phase out cash in favour of a cashless card.

Crown suitor The Star group, which has proposed a $12 billion merger with the casino giant, is also expected to introduce cashless card technology in its Sydney casino when it becomes available.

card, which the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority said must be “linked to identity and a recognised financial institution”, is aimed at curbing organised criminal activity and money laundering.

Anti problem gambling advocates say the technology should also be designed to place limits on excessive gambling.

No timeline for the introduction of the cards at Australia’s biggest casino operators has been agreed, which means cash may still be used at Crown Sydney if it opens in the coming months.

Crown has not yet reached similar agreements with gambling regulators for its casinos in Victoria and West Australia but discussions are understood to be under way.

The embattled James Packer-backed group was judged unfit to run its Sydney casino in February after a damning report from the Bergin inquiry found Crown had facilitated the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars at its Melbourne and Perth casinos and had links with Asian organised crime gangs through international junket programs.

Crown and The Star have also agreed with ILGA to cease all international junket operations.

Crown will also close its international offices including in Hong Kong.

As part of a restructure of its International VIP business Crown has closed its overseas offices and intends to operate its International VIP activities out of Australia,” Crown said.

Checks required before Crown casino ready to open in Sydney

ILGA chairman Philip Crawford said he expected the Sydney casino to be open before the end of October as long as Crown passes audits of its bank accounts to ensure it is still not laundering money and an independent monitor signs off on its anti money laundering and corporate governance systems.

“We’ve extended the liquor licence until the end of October. And I think you can assume that we are hopeful and-or confident that the opening of the gaming rooms will happen well in advance of the end of October,” Mr Crawford said.

Consulting giant Deloitte is combing through Crown’s bank accounts and the independent monitor will report to ILGA on corporate governance, culture and anti money laundering controls.

Mr Crawford stressed the casino giant was still unsuitable to use its casino licence and a lot of work still needed to be done, but ridding the board of Mr Packer’s influence and the swath of directors stepping down has been “positive”.

Crown has also agreed to phase out indoor smoking by December 2022, paying $12.5 million towards the Bergin inquiry’s costs and a casino supervisory levy of $5 million in fiscal year 2021 and 2022.

The levy will be subject to further consultation with ILGA for 2023.

“The authority will await the report from the independent monitor and the result of the financial accounts audit, before making a final decision on suitability,” he said.

Mr Crawford said all senior executive positions were being filled by candidates with relevant expertise and experience, and independent audits were under way on several aspects of Crown’s operations.

The measures are part of an exhaustive overhaul of Crown as it tries to win back favour to open the Barangaroo casino.

The gambling industry faces potential headwinds with mounting pressure from regulators to face up to money laundering and problem gambling.

ILGA’s discussions with Australia’s giant casino operators could spill into regulation of pubs and clubs, which could affect Woolworths which is aiming to spin off its pokies and drinks group, Endeavour, as a separate company this year.

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Star bids to takeover Crown Resorts

Australia’s second largest casino operator has submitted a proposal to merge with the nation’s largest and most iconic casino operator, Crown Resorts.

The ABC reports that Star Entertainment Group has submitted a merger proposal to its main rival, Crown Resorts.

The non-binding proposal offers 2.68 The Star shares per Crown share, which The Star says values Crown shares above $14.

Crown shareholders would also be offered the alternative of $12.50 cash per share, up to a limit of 25 per cent of its shares.

The merger proposal trumps a bid by US private equity firm Blackstone, which was raised over the weekend from $11.85 to $12.35.

The new cash offer puts an $8.4 billion value on Crown.

Both offers are higher than the share price has been since mid-January 2020.

The price crashed last March as the pandemic took hold, and as hearings for the Bergin inquiry into Crown Resort’s fitness to hold a casino licence for its new Barangaroo casino on Sydney Harbour confirmed media reporting about links to criminal gangs and rampant money laundering.

Then, the share price slumped as low as just above $6.

It closed on Friday at $12.12.

The Star’s chairman, John O’Neill, said the merger would create a $12 billion casino and entertainment company listed on the ASX.

“A merger of The Star and Crown would result in significant scale and diversification and unlock an estimated $2 billion in net value from synergies,” he said in a statement to shareholders.

“With a portfolio of world-class properties across four states in Australia’s most attractive and populated catchment areas and tourism hubs, the combined group would be a compelling investment proposition and one of the largest and most attractive integrated resort operators in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Star’s takeover proposal for Crown trumps Blackstone offer

The Star is also pitching its offer as a way to potentially solve Crown’s regulatory woes, which continue to stop its new casino in Sydney harbourside Barangaroo district from commencing gaming operations, due to governance problems and money laundering risks.

Crown’s biggest shareholder, James Packer, is keen to exit the business, which may also assist the company in gaining NSW regulatory approvals.

However, Crown now also faces royal commissions investing its past practices and compliance with gaming and money laundering laws in Victoria and Western Australia.

The Star operates Sydney’s current casino in Pyrmont and also has casino operations in Queensland.

Crown’s board said it had not yet formed a view on the merger proposal or on Blackstone’s increased takeover offer, and advised that shareholders did not need to take any action at this stage.

In a busy start to the week for the company, Crown also announced that it had appointed current LendLEase chief executive Steve McCann as its new CEO and managing director.

Chair Helen Coonan has been doing double-duty as interim chief executive since February.

At that time, chief executive Ken Barton resigned as part of a clear-out of directors and executives in the wake of the New South Wales inquiry.

The Bergin Report had been scathing of the performance of many of Crown’s directors and senior managers.

Crown Resorts shares rose 8.83 per cent on Monday to $13.19 on the back of the news, with The Star’s shares rising 8.7 per cent to $4.25.

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blackstone logo

Blackstone merevisi proposal pengambilalihan Crown Resorts

logo blackstoneSebuah grup ekuitas swasta yang tertarik untuk mengakuisisi Crown Resorts telah mengajukan tawaran baru untuk operator kasino yang diperangi.

The Australian Financial Review melaporkan bahwa Blackstone telah kembali ke Crown dengan proposal yang direvisi, menyusul penawaran indikatif saham senilai $ 11,85, yang dibuat enam minggu lalu.

Proposal baru, dikirim ke dewan Crown akhir pekan lalu, melihat Blackstone menjatuhkan beberapa persyaratan dan berkomitmen untuk siap mengakuisisi Crown pada kuartal ketiga tahun ini.

Kondisi turun termasuk kondisi keuangan, kata sumber.

Dipahami Blackstone mengatakan tawarannya bisa terbentuk sepenuhnya dan siap untuk diterapkan pada kuartal ketiga tahun ini, yang saat itu mengharapkan untuk menerima izin kejujuran dari negara bagian Australia, termasuk NSW dan Victoria.

Proposal yang direvisi, dikirim ke eksekutif Crown Helen Coonan dan bankirnya di UBS, tampaknya merupakan upaya lain oleh Blackstone untuk membuat perusahaan kasino terlibat dalam tawarannya dan berusaha meyakinkan baik Crown dan pemegang sahamnya tentang keahliannya di sektor permainan. .

Sejak Morgan Stanley-menasihati Blackstone mengajukan penawaran pada paruh kedua Maret, Crown tidak mengatakan apa-apa kecuali sedang mempertimbangkan proposal tersebut.

Diketahui bahwa Crown dan penasihatnya pernah enggan untuk terlibat dalam pembicaraan rahasia dengan Blackstone.

Blackstone sejak itu memperbaiki ketentuan peraturan yang melekat pada penawarannya, secara efektif menawarkan untuk mengambil lebih banyak risiko peraturan yang terkait dengan Crown di beberapa yurisdiksi, dan sekarang telah mengajukan proposal yang direvisi.

Saham Crown terakhir diperdagangkan pada $ 12,12.

Juga, sejak Blackstone melontarkan tawarannya, raksasa investasi alternatif AS saingannya Oaktree Capital Management telah mengajukan proposal pendanaan yang akan membuat Crown membeli kembali saham pemegang saham utama James Packer di perusahaan tersebut.

Tawaran Oaktree untuk Crown

logo investasi oaktree

Pada pertengahan April, perusahaan investasi Oaktree mengusulkan untuk mengambil alih Crown, dengan rincian pendanaan investasi hampir $ 3 miliar kepada Crown untuk membeli kembali “sebagian atau semua” saham yang dipegang oleh CPH.

Oaktree akan “memberikan komitmen pendanaan hingga A $ 3 miliar kepada Crown melalui instrumen terstruktur, dengan hasil yang akan digunakan Crown untuk membeli kembali sebagian atau semua saham Crown, yang dipegang oleh CPH secara selektif.”

CPH memegang kepemilikan bersama di Crown sekitar 37 persen, menjadikan Mr. Packer investor terbesar di grup game terbesar di negara ini.

Pengaruh Mr. Packer atas dewan Crown sebagai pemegang saham mayoritas telah diteliti oleh penyelidikan NSW ke kasino yang menentukan bahwa perusahaan tersebut tidak cocok untuk memegang lisensi perjudian di negara bagian tersebut karena bukti salah urus dan pencucian uang.

Temuan dari penyelidikan NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority juga menemukan bahwa Mr Packer bukanlah orang yang cocok untuk dikaitkan dengan kasino.

Komisaris Patricia Bergin SC mengatakan pengaruh Mr. Packer akan menghalangi kemampuan perusahaan untuk mendapatkan persetujuan untuk membuka lantai permainan kasino Barangaroo senilai $ 2,2 miliar di Sydney.

Crown mengatakan dewan belum membentuk pandangan tentang proposal Oaktree tetapi menilai kesepakatan potensial.

Pembelian kembali harus disetujui oleh pemegang saham Crown.

Saat Crown Resorts menerima tawaran pengambilalihan pertamanya dari firma ekuitas swasta Blackstone, dilaporkan bahwa setiap tawaran pengambilalihan menghadapi banyak rintangan, termasuk menegosiasikan harga jual yang adil.

Crown mengatakan dewannya belum membentuk pandangan tentang manfaat proposal Blackstone dan akan memulai proses untuk menilai itu.

Tawaran pengambilalihan yang diusulkan menghadapi banyak rintangan dan risiko regulasi, termasuk beberapa pertanyaan ke Crown oleh regulator berbasis negara bagian, class action yang membayangi, dan regulator keuangan AUSTRAC menyelidiki Crown atas potensi pelanggaran undang-undang anti pencucian uang dan pendanaan kontra-terorisme Australia.

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