Crown CEO Steve McCann exits the business

By Ethan Anderson Updated
Crown CEO Steve McCann exits the business

Crown Resorts chief executive officer Steve McCann is out of a job a year after taking over the embattled casino operator.

The Herald Sun reports McCann stepped down, activating a $9 million payout clause in his employment contract after Blackstone’s $8.9 billion takeover of the gaming company formerly controlled by James Packer.

Crown, which was delisted from the ASX following the takeover and has subsequently been removed from the coverage of all credit agency ratings under its now private ownership, has appointed Macau-based casino executive Ciaran Carruthers as McCann’s replacement.

Under McCann’s employment contract, a change of control clause included an immediate payout of up to $9 million, including $5 million worth of long-term performance rights that vest under Blackstone’s ownership.

He joined Crown in June 2021, taking the helm after a series of scandals, including revelations the company facilitated money laundering and other organised crime and failed to adhere to its responsible gambling obligations, culminating in three enquiries in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

McCann oversaw Crown’s transformation

Crown is now facing the fallout of these scandals, facing several blockbuster fines from AUSTRAC and state gaming regulators.

The Victorian gaming regulator has already fined the company a record $80 million over its illegal use of China UnionPay debit cards and in early July announced the company faces another penalty of up to $100 million after it failed to minimise harm caused by problem gambling.

McCann had been overseeing the company’s extensive reformations, which included the appointment of 60 new responsible gaming officers and was confident it could rebuild its troubled international high-roller business, which had been marred by rogue cashed-up Chinese junkets.

McCann leaves Crown having completed the three main tasks he faced when he joined the company: regaining its suitability to hold a casino licence, bedding down its reformation so that its new $2.2 billion Barangaroo site could fully open and solve its ownership after Mr Packer was forced to sell down his 37 per cent stake following the Victorian Royal Commission.

“I am incredibly proud of what has been achieved at Crown over the past 13 months, through the tireless efforts of our 20,000 team members who have laid the foundations for Crown’s next chapter,” McCann said.

“I came into this role at a very challenging time for Crown and I will leave Crown proud that we have made a positive impact on the future of the business.

“I’d like to thank the hardworking Board members of Crown who have provided me tremendous support, as well as every member of the team who has contributed their important part.

“Crown is an incredible place. From its properties to its product and its people.

“It’s been an honour to be part of the team and I look forward to seeing Crown’s continued success as part of the Blackstone family and under the stewardship of Ciaran, who have my full support in their vision to help Crown realise its full potential.”

New Crown CEO has three decades experience

But more work needs to be done, according to the special manager overseeing Crown’s Melbourne casino, Stephen O’Bryan QC, who was appointed on the recommendation of Victorian Royal Commission head Ray Finkelstein QC.

In his first ‘activity report’, Mr O’Bryan said while Crown is undertaking “a complex and significant reform program and it has already taken a range of positive steps”, considerable further work is required by Crown to demonstrate the level of reform and embedded change the royal commission recommended.

Carruthers who has more than 30 years’ experience, which include running Wynn Macau and senior vice president and director of the Venetian and Plaza operations for Sands China.

He has also held several senior operational roles at casino resorts in Southeast Asia, the Philippines and the US Pacific Islands.

Carruthers paid tribute to McCann, particularly his efforts in Crown’s “cultural transformation” and said he would continue his work.

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