Tab NZ announces inaugural appointments to board

| By Marese O'Hagan
New Zealand sports betting agency Tab NZ has announced the implementation of a new board, which will see Tab NZ's new framework outline come to a close.
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The board will take over from the interim board, which governed Tab NZ after it replaced previous racing operator RITA.

The new appointments include Mark Stewart, who has business experience in sports and regulation, as chair.

Paul Bittar and Jason Fleming will also join the new board. Bittar has governance and executive experience in Australia and New Zealand’s sports and racing sectors, while Fleming has worked closely in Class 4 gaming and has a governance-level background in the racing industry.

In addition, Wendie Harvey and Raewyn Lovett have been named as new board members. Harvey is currently a gambling commissioner, and Lovett is a director at Sports NZ.

The new appointments were announced by racing minister Grant Robertson.

“This Board will progress from the excellent work done by the interim board, put in place in August 2020,” said Robertson.

“I am excited to have the new Board in place. This is a significant step for TAB New Zealand. I also want to thank the interim Board for the work it has done to help get us to this point.”

Liz Dawson, chair of Tab NZ, praised the work of the interim board.

“As an interim Board, we’ve focused on creating the best possible foundation for the incoming Board to ensure the organisation is well placed to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Dawson also commented on the inclusion of two existing members of the interim board, Anna Stove and Bill Birnie, into the new makeup.

“It’s great to see two members of the interim Board carrying over to the new Board which will provide some continuity for this work.”

Stove has had commercial racing sector involvement, while Birnie has governance experience in racing and sport, as well as audit and risk.

Chief transition officer Dean McKenzie emphasised the positive financial basis of Tab NZ, and the effects of this standing on the new board.

“TAB NZ’s distributions to both racing and sport are projected to increase significantly next year and increased revenue from improved margin performance has played a key role in that,” said McKenzie.

“As Chief Transition Officer, I’m looking forward to working with the new Board until they’ve got their feet under the desk and are in the position to appoint a new Chief Executive.”

Tab NZ reported a 3.8% year-on-year rise in revenue in the first half of 2021.

Dawson revealed that one of the interim board’s final duties will be the completion of Tab NZ’s five-year plan and the FY 2022-2024 statement of intent, both of which are due on July 31 2021.

“These documents will help ensure the organisation not only builds on the momentum of the reform programme, but also capitalises on its strong financial performance across the last 12 months,” said Dawson.

“We believe the next few years will present considerable upside and excitement for this business and for all those who benefit from it, although there will be difficult challenges and decisions for the new Board to tackle along the way. We wish them every possible success.”

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