Bob Dylan once sang the times they are a changing and they certainly are at Crown Resorts. Two Crown directors stepped down from their roles this week following the company’s AGM.
Thursday was a busy day for Crown’s directors and shareholders as the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place. An AGM gives shareholders of a company the opportunity to air their voice and concerns. Investors had and still have major concerns about the direction crown is heading.
Crown’s previously good name is no more. There isn’t a week goes by where Crown isn’t in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Its directors continually accuse the Australian media of a smear campaign. That’s not the case, Crown is doing a good enough job creating negative press on its own.
The reappointment of three directors was the focus of this week’s AGM. Independent directors John Horvath and Jane Halton’s jobs were on the line. As was that of Guy Jalland, a nominee director for James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings.
Some 24.80% of voters voted against Halton keeping her job. This is slightly better than the 31.27% who voted against Horvath. Jalland is extremely unpopular, 41.39% of voters want him our of Crown.
Packer’s huge weight in the voting is the only thing that saved this trio from the public vote. Packer holds 36% of Crown’s shares and, therefore, has a huge influence in voting matters.
End of the Road for Two Directors
Crown issued a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) following the AGM. It revealed two directors are leaving their posts in the near future.
“Crown Resorts Limited announced today at its AGM that John Alexander has retired as a director of Crown. Mr Alexander will remain an Executive of Crown until January 2021.”
“Crown’s Chairman, The Honourable Helen Coonan, said ‘I would like to thank John for his services to Crown for more than a decade.’”
“Additionally, at today’s Annual General Meeting, Professor John Harvath announced his intention to retire as a director of Crown. Given his role on the Crown Melbourne Limited Board, Professor Horvath will remain a director of Crown until alternative arrangements are put in place.”
Shareholders voiced their concerns about the directors’ remuneration package. 34.33% of voters voted against the abhorrent pay packets and bonuses of the directors. Australian rules dictate this leads to a first strike against Crown. Any future vote of 25% against means the entire board would be up for re-election.
Those same shareholders are definitely not fans of Mr Bryan Young. Yong was set to become a Crown director but 99.08% of voters voted against him.
Almost as many people voted in favour of Crown appointing a new auditor of the company. 98.66% voted in favour of KPMG becoming the company’s statutory auditor.
Coonan Promises Major Reform
Chairman Coonan promised major reforms to Crown’s operating policies. It’s not before time because the current inquiry into Crown’s suitability for a casino licence in Sydney has opened a can of worms.
Crown faces an investigation into anti-money laundering shortcomings, anti-terrorism too.
Connan apologised unreservedly for the company’s recent failings. There is no tolerance for directors who fall short in future.
She revealed Crown stopped using controversial junkets in September. The resumption of junket use will only happen after “extensive consultation with regulators regarding significantly enhanced due diligence processes.”
Ken Barton, Crown CEO, gave a speech revealing Crown is looking to fill several senior roles. Barton also talked about restructuring Crown.
That restructuring spells the end for Barry Felstead. He is currently the CEO of Australian Resorts but is stepping down at the end of the current year. The ongoing inquiry dragged Felstead’s name though the mud for his role in the junkets saga.