Donaco still searching for its next CEO

By Noah Taylor Updated
Donaco hopeful of swift rebound as restrictions ease

Donaco International has announced that chief executive Paul Arbuckle will serve as chief executive on a month-to-month basis to continue assisting the company through the transition period to a new CEO.

ABN Newswire reports Mr Arbuckle’s final day with the company was expected to be June 4, following the announcement of his interim status in December, 2019.

The Donaco board welcomes Mr Arbuckle’s continuing support and believes it will allow a smooth transition to a new CEO.

Under the executive search process, the board said it has interviewed a number of quality candidates for the CEO position that are currently under consideration and it is seeking to make an appointment as soon as possible.

Donaco’s largest business is its Cambodian casino in the town of Poipet – Star Vegas Resort and Club.

Established in 1999, it is the largest and highest quality of the Poipet casino hotels, according to Donaco.

The venue boasts more than 100 gaming tables, more than 1400 slot machines and 385 hotel rooms.

Donaco’s flagship business is the Aristo International Hotel, a successful boutique casino in northern Vietnam, located on the Chinese border.

Established in 2002, the property has been recently expanded to a new five-star resort complex with 400 resorts.

Donaco owns 95 per cent of the business, in a joint venture with the Government of Vietnam.

New CEO for Donaco

Australian-based Donaco International announced it had a new man at the top steering the ship last December.

The company’s board has announced that Paul Arbuckle has been selected as the new chief executive officer of the casino operator as of June 12, 2019 according to Calvin Ayre.

Mr Arbuckle will operate mainly out of Donaco’s Cambodia-based property, Star Vegas.

In his most recent role, he was the chief operating officer at Star Gold Coast in Australia.

He has been in the gaming business for more than 30 years and was previously the senior vice president of casino marketing and gaming operations at Resorts World Sentosa, where he oversaw 3,800 staff members and a plethora of gaming equipment.

He has also been involved in organisations such as Tabcorp, Crown Perth, the Zagame Corp and Showboat Australia.

Board chairman Stuart McGregor said in the announcement, “The Board of Donaco is very pleased that Paul Arbuckle has agreed to join us as our Chief Executive Officer. Paul’s experience and expertise in gaming operations is critical to improving the performance of our casino operations in Cambodia and Vietnam.”

“While these businesses continue to be profitable, the Board has considered for some time that they are not reaching their full potential.

He added, “Accordingly, Paul’s appointment is a crucial step in the Board’s plan to provide a fresh start, revitalise our business and restore value for shareholders.”

The move comes following some tough times in Donaco during the past year.

With Mr Arbuckle’s entrance, interim chief executive officer and managing director Joey Lim and the company’s former chief operating officer Gerald Tan will leave.

Arbuckle’s appointment immediately boots Lim out of the captain’s chair and will also most likely lead toward the ouster of Lim and his brother Benjamin, as directors of the board.

Some shareholders have already called for the two to be removed due to certain inconsistencies with how the company has been run at the hands of Joey Lim.

A shareholders meeting has been called for July 18 in order to discuss the removal in greater detail and is open to all investors with at least 5.04 per cent in the company, according to a company filing from today.

Donaco weighs up options regarding debt

Last December, Donaco informed the ASX that it was contemplating its options regarding a debt of $39.9 million it held with Mega Bank.

That debt is secured by the firm’s Star Vegas Resort and Club located in Poipet, Cambodia.

That same month, the company’s managing director and chief executive Joey Lim vacated his positions due to ill health.

The casino operator has been embroiled in a legal dispute with former partners out of Thailand that previously owned the Star Vegas Resort and Club in Poipet, Cambodia.

That facility sits on the Thailand/Cambodia border and targeted gamblers in Thailand, where casinos are illegal.

The partners operating their casinos, according to Donaco, were in violation of an agreement that prevented them from being active in the area.

Donaco has already sought relief through arbitration in Singapore and has also been trying to argue its case in the Australian court system.

Donaco, for its most recent complete financial year that ended last June, reported post-tax losses of $88.4 million.

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