Crown names Switkowski as new chairman

| By Robert Fletcher
Australian operator Crown Resorts announced the appointment of Ziggy Switkowski as its new chairman.
Victorian Government announces Crown extension

Switkowski will replace Helen Coonan, who will step down as Crown’s executive chairman and exit its board tomorrow (27 August).

Pending the receipt of probity and regulatory approvals, Crown non-executive director Jane Halton will serve as interim chairman until Switkowski takes on the role.

Currently chancellor of RMIT University and chairman of NBN Co, Switkowski was previously chairman of Suncorp Group, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Opera Australia. 

Switkowski also spent time as chief executive and managing director of Telstra Corporation and Optus and served as a non-executive director of listed companies Tabcorp, Healthscope, Oil Search, Lynas and Amcor. 

“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,” Switkowski said.

Crown’s board added: ““Ziggy’s experience and capabilities are well suited to meeting the challenges currently confronting Crown. We are determined to restore the trust of regulators, investors, employees, customers and the wider community. 

“We want to acknowledge Helen’s contribution through a particularly challenging period for the business. When Crown needed strong and principled leadership, Helen stepped up. Helen has played a crucial role in stabilising Crown and brought to the business a culture of care, nurturing a more cohesive workplace for our people.”

The appointment comes after Crown last week named Steve McCann as chief executive of Crown Melbourne, following the exit of Xavier Walsh. McCann will combine the role while serving in his current capacity as Crown Resorts CEO. 

Walsh’s departure coincided with an inquiry into Crown Melbourne’s operations. The inquiry has heard evidence that Crown is “not a suitable licensee” to operate in the state and that Crown may never be able to secure the trust of the public with Walsh and Coonan still in place.

When adding in that the operator failed to pay its casino tax bill in full, the inquiry found Crown to be untrustworthy and “unfit to hold a licence”. Crown later paid the remaining AUD$61.0m (£32.5m/€38.1m/$43.8m) of its tax bill.

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