Star Entertainment Board Clear-Out Continues

The clear-out of the Star Entertainment Group board of directors continues with another two executives announcing their resignation.

The Star Entertainment boardroom grows ever sparser after two more board members resigned from their posts. Ms Sally Pitkin and Mr Gerard Bradley join the list of Star directors that have recently left their posts.

Star investors learned the news via a statement posted on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

“The Star Entertainment Group Limited notes the evidence in relation to Board renewal given in the public hearings in connection with the review of The Star Sydney being undertaken by Mr Adam Bell SC.”

“As advised on April 1, 2022, in announcing the appointment of interim Executive Chairman John O’Neill AO, the Board acknowledged the need for accelerated Board change and would embark on a program of renewal in a timely manner. The Board is also mindful of the need for stability in this transitional period.”

“As part of this process, Ms Sally Pitkin has indicated her intention to step down from the Board by the end of the current financial year. Mr Gerard Bradley has indicated his intention to step down from the Board in the coming months. It is expected that other changes will occur in due course.”

Star Board Looks Thin on the Ground

The resignation of Pitkin and Bradley leaves the Star Entertainment board low on numbers. CEO Matt Bekier fell on his sword in late March. Three other executives, Paula Martin, Greg Hawkins, and Harry Theodore joined Bekier at the job centre a month later. This latest raft of resignations means the Star board is six executives short.

Star is in the process of rebuilding its management team. It appointed Michael Issenberg as a Non-Executive Director in mid-February. However, Issenberg is waiting on regulatory approval before he officially joins the board of directors.

John O’Neill was the Star Chairman before Bekier stepped down as CEO. Star appointed him as an Executive Chairman and increased his salary from $500,000 to $1.5 million. However, media reports suggest Star executives think they made a mistake with the appointment.

The under-fire casino giant is hopefully sweeping changes to its boardroom will allow it to continue operating even if it is deemed unfit to hold a gaming licence. Crown Resorts employed similar measures and they continue operating despite major failings.

Star Sydney Inquiry Delayed Until May 23

The inquiry into Star Sydney took an unexpected twist on Monday when it was delayed until May 23. O’Neill was due to take the stand and face a barrage of questions on Monday. However, those running the inquiry adjourned the hearing until Tuesday before pushing it back until May 23. The NSW Department of Enterprise Investment and Trade declined to give a reason.

Hearings resume next week with board member Richard Sheppard and O’Neill giving evidence. Closing submissions from the counsel assisting the review follow. Star then faces an anxious wait to discover its fate. Everything points towards the inquiry finding Star unsuitable to hold a gaming licence. Expect a substantial fine in addition to a raft of restrictive measures.

Star Saga Following in Crown’s Footsteps

The ongoing Star Sydney saga is almost a carbon copy of how the Crown Resorts edition played out. The royal commission into Crown uncovered dozens of underhand, shady, and criminal activities that the Crown board turned a blind eye to.

Crown decimated its board of directors and replaced them with new top brass. This was enough for Crown to continue its operations despite the 539-page report deeming Crown unfit to do so.

Crown has since accepted an $8.9 billion takeover offer from American investment company Blackstone Group. The fact Crown could be under new ownership is likely to have had some bearing on the inquiry’s decision making.

Could Star Entertainment further follow in Crown’s footsteps and put itself up for sale? There is a possibility but ongoing legal action needs settling before they can even think about doing so.