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Star names Crown’s Mok as new COO in latest senior management change

| By Robert Fletcher
Star Entertainment Group has appointed Jeannie Mok, formerly of Crown Resorts, as group chief operating officer (COO), marking the latest change in senior management at the operator.
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Mok will begin her new COO role at Star effective 11 June and lead remediation efforts at the group.

She joins Star after more than two years with Crown Resorts. There, she was most recently chief transformation officer after a spell as chief of staff.

Prior to this, Mok spent over 14 years with Australian construction and real estate business Lendlease Group. During this time, she served in various leadership roles such as head of operational excellence for its property business.

Earlier in her career, Mok also worked as a solicitor for King & Wood Mallesons. 

Anne Ward, who took over as executive chair at Star last month, welcomed the appointment of Mok. Ward says Mok strengthens Star’s leadership team as it focuses on implementing necessary reforms.

“Jeannie’s strong leadership skills and highly relevant experience within the industry will be significant assets to our ongoing programme of change,” Ward said. “We are focused on driving sustainable improvements at Star and fostering a culture of positive transformation at all levels of the organisation. 

“We look forward to working with Jeannie across all operational aspects of this transformation.”

More changes at the top for Star

Mok and Ward are among the latest new additions to the leadership team at Star. 

Ward took on her new role a few weeks ago, replacing David Foster. Incidentally, Ward joined the Star board at the same time as Foster.

Other recent management changes include group CEO and managing Robbie Cooke. He left in March along with chief financial officer Christina Katsibouba. 

Star is yet to announce any replacement, with Foster having taken on additional CEO duties before he stepped aside as chair.  However, Cooke has agreed to remain as a consultant to Star for the next few months.

Another recent outgoing is Jessica Mellor, who is stepping down as CEO of Star Gold Coast

Ongoing uncertainty at Star

The changes come in the wake of Star being told it faces a second inquiry from the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC).

Adam Bell SC, who oversaw the first Bell report, will lead the inquiry. He is looking at how Star has implemented recommendations from the first. Star was declared unsuitable to hold a casino licence in New South Wales in September 2022 after the initial investigation uncovered a catalogue of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings.

The second inquiry launched in February, with a final report due today (31 May).

While Star’s future in New South Wales remains uncertain, it was recently given some level of respite in Queensland. Authorities in the state this month announced a further delay to a planned licence suspension.

Star was sanctioned in Queensland in December 2022 over a series of failings. The operator was handed a AU$100.0m (£52.2m/€61.4m/US$66.4m) fine and informed its licence would be suspended.

The group was given an initial 12 months to resolve issues and prove it was suitable for a licence. The 1 December 2023 deadline was pushed back to 31 May this year after Star submitted a draft remediation plan to address issues. 

This has now been delayed again to 20 December, with Queensland authorities keen see the second Bell Inquiry before making a decision. 

Hard Rock hits back at Star investment claims

Against this backdrop, yet more confusion has emerged in the form of potential investment interest from Hard Rock International.

In mid-May, reports in the Australian media said Hard Rock was part of a group seeking to invest in Star. The reports went as far to suggest Star’s land-based casinos would rebrand under the Hard Rock name should the deal proceed.

Star responded saying it had received “inbound interest” from several external parties over potential transactions. As for links with Hard Rock, Star said it had not received a proposal directly from the group. It did, however, claim one consortium featuring the Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts Pacific regional division of Hard Rock had shown interest.

Hitting back, Hard Rock denied any interest in a possible deal. The group also said it did not authorise the use of its brand in connection with any third-party proposal.

Going further, Hard Rock said it takes any misuse of its brand “seriously” and could consider taking legal action over the issue.

“We want to make it clear that Hard Rock International is not involved in, nor has it authorised, any discussions, activities or negotiations on its behalf in connection with a proposed bid for Star,” Hard Rock said.

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