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Tabcorp brings in Howell as new CFO

| By Robert Fletcher
Tabcorp Holdings has announced the appointment of Mark Howell as its new chief financial officer (CFO), subject to regulatory approvals.
Tabcorp Howell CFO

Howell will move into the role some time before June 2024, replacing Daniel Renshaw, who left Tabcorp in August. Damien Johnston has been acting as interim CFO since September.

Howell joins Tabcorp from Coles Group, where he is currently general manager for liquor finance and network optimisation. He also spent time as general manager of group strategy, business development and investor relations at the retail liquor network.

Prior to this, he held senior investment banking roles at Rothschild and Goldman Sachs in Australia and New York. Howell also worked at Ernst and Young and has been a director at Queensland Venue Co since May 2019.

Tabcorp managing director and CEO Adam Rytenskild welcomed the appointment, saying Howell is “perfect” for the business.

“Mark is the perfect fit for Tabcorp as we deliver our transformation,” Rytenskild said. “He’s passionate about our growth story and dynamic in his thinking.

“Wagering is one of the most competitive industries in Australia and Mark comes from an equally competitive customer-focused industry. His experience leading finance teams at Coles and working closely with investors will be invaluable moving forward.”

Tabcorp reveals revenue decline in Q1

The appointment comes after Tabcorp last month reported a 6.1% year-on-year decline in revenue in Q1. This occurred despite an increase in digital wagering turnover.

Wagering and media revenue fell 5.4%, reflecting the impact of lower fixed odds yields due to racing and sports results. Digital wagering revenue also slipped 3.9% but digital wagering turnover defied softer market conditions and increased 1.0%.

As for gaming services revenue, this was down by 12.9% on the previous year. Tabcorp says this was primarily due to the removal of eBet revenue following the sale of the business in February.

Also in relation to gaming services, Tabcorp said it is close to finalising the planned sale of its Max Performance Solutions business.

Penalties in Victoria and New South Wales

Tabcorp was also dealt a number of regulatory blows in Q1. The business was issued fines in both Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) for a number of failings.

First, Tabcorp was fined a record AU$1.0m in Victoria. This related to its conduct when its Wagering and Betting System (WBS) went down during the 2020 Spring Racing Carnival.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) blasted Tabcorp over its actions. It said the operator did not voluntarily provide adequate information about the outage and criticised its conduct during the investigation. Tabcorp was also criticised for its “repeated failure” to comply with directions.

Meanwhile, Tabcorp was fined a further $15,000 for breaching advertising and promotion rules in NSW.

Tabcorp was found to have advertised a promotion on its website including an inducement to gamble. The ad could be seen by anyone who visited the website, whether they had an account with Tabcorp or not.

Tabcorp recoups funds in tax settlement

There was some better news for Tabcorp in Q1 when it was refunded $83.0m after resolving a tax dispute with the Australian taxation office (ATO).

This relates to income tax treatment of payments for various licences and authorities. The group said that it paid the disputed amount of tax liabilities and interest in full, with the refunded amount representing 20% of the disputed tax liabilities and interest.

Each proceeding brought by the taxpayers was dismissed. In turn, Tabcorp will pay approximately $37.0m to The Lottery Corporation Limited (TLC) under the businesses’ separation deed.

This means Tabcorp will recognise a benefit of approximately $45.0m after tax from the ATO settlement. 

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