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Star appoints Ward as new chairman following Foster exit

| By Robert Fletcher
Star Entertainment Group has announced the departure of David Foster as chairman, with board member Anne Ward moving into the role with immediate effect.
Star chairman Foster Ward

Foster has served as chairman since December 2022, replacing Ben Heap. He joined the Star board in August 2022.

Prior to joining Star, Foster worked in finance for over 25 years, including a spell as CEO of Suncorp Bank. He also served on boards across a range of industries including finance, retail, government, education and professional services.

Foster will remain on the Star board for an interim period and continue his existing executive responsibilities. He will also continue as a director of relevant subsidiary company boards until they can be reconstituted by other individuals.

Ward takes the wheel at Star

Star has moved swiftly to replace Foster, with Ward being confirmed as its new chairman as of today (29 April). Incidentally, Ward joined the Star board at the same time as Foster.

Ward previously worked in finance, banking, insurance, technology, healthcare, government, education, tourism and entertainment. This includes roles covering business management, strategy, governance, risk and finance.

Among her experience is a spell on the board at Crown Resorts, where she served between September 2021 and June 2022. Ward stepped down following the completion of the takeover by Blackstone

Ward also had spell as the chairman of Zoos Victoria, Qantas Superannuation, Symbio and Fleixgroup. At present, she is also a director of the non-profit Imaging Research and Articore, an online marketplace for independent artists previously known as Redbubble.

Star exodus continue as Second Bell inquiry launches

Foster’s exit marks the latest major departure at Star since the Second Bell inquiry launched in February. Entitled Bell Two, the inquiry is running until 31 May as a successor to the infamous Bell report.

The first report uncovered anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings at Star Sydney, recommending 30 measures to improve practices. One year after publication, a report revealed Star had put 22 of the 30 proposals into practice.

The second inquiry is focusing on the culture at Star and the effects of the first Bell report.

In the wake of the inquiry launching, Star has announced a series of high-level personnel departures. 

Last month, Robbie Cooke stepped down as group CEO and managing director. Christina Katsibouba is also exiting as chief financial officer.

Cooke took over as CEO of Star in November 2022. In doing so, he became the operator’s fourth CEO in the space of year, following Matt Bekier, who resigned during The Star’s New South Wales investigation, John O’Neill and Geoff Hogg.

Incidentally, Foster took on additional duties as executive chair amid a search for a new CEO.

Katsibouba, meanwhile, is leaving to pursue other interests away from the business. Former Tatts Group CFO Neale O’Connell will be taking on the role in an interim basis.

Also this month, Star announced Jessica Mellor is exiting as CEO of Star Gold Coast. She will officially leave by 24 May.

Mellor has only led Star Gold Coast since October last year. By taking on the role, she became its youngest and first female CEO. She spent four and a half years as Star’s chief operating officer.

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