Crown Resorts Chairman Replaced in Management Shakeup

(Bloomberg) -- Crown Resorts Ltd. replaced its chairman in a management shakeup after allegations linking the casino operator to criminal gangs and drug traffickers prompted Australian authorities to assess whether to revoke the company’s gaming license.

John Alexander is stepping down as chairman and will be replaced by Helen Coonan, a former government minister, in a non-executive capacity, the company said Friday in a statement. Chief Financial Officer Ken Barton will take over as chief executive officer.

Australian authorities are assessing whether Crown is worthy of holding a gaming license in Sydney after allegations that criminal gangs laundered money at its casinos and the company used junket operators with links to drug traffickers. Crown’s planned resort in Sydney, which is under construction, is designed for high-stakes gamblers and is central to the company’s future.

“The Crown Board has been working for some time to consider and to implement a governance structure that is more in line with the traditional model with a non-executive chair,” Coonan said in the statement, adding the shift came after feedback from shareholders.

Alexander will remain an executive director, while board member John Horvath was named deputy chair.

Last year, Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. delayed a planned $1.2 billion investment in Crown pending the result of the regulatory probe. Billionaire James Packer is Melbourne-based Crown’s biggest single shareholder, but has been has been trying to exit the company -- and public life -- after a tumultuous few years.

The group’s high-roller gambling business has been under pressure, with turnover from the VIP program falling 26% to about $26 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Crown shares fell 0.3% to A$12.04 on Friday, dropping for a sixth straight day.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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