The Star appoints Scott Wharton as new boss of Sydney operations

The Star appoints Scott Wharton as new boss of Sydney operations

Incoming The Star Sydney CEO Scott Wharton.

The Star Entertainment Group (ASX: SGR) has appointed a new boss to lead its Sydney operations following the resignation of former chief casino officer (NSW) Greg Hawkins, who stepped down in May in the midst of a review into the casino’s operations.

Former Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) executive Scott Wharton will step into the void left by Hawkins under the new title of CEO of The Star Sydney and group head of transformation, pending all necessary regulatory approvals.

The Star has highlighted Wharton’s experience in turnaround and transformation, noting the new Sydney boss was responsible for leading bank-wide transformation efforts at CBA, including the design and implementation of the bank’s response to the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority’s (APRA) 2018 report into governance, culture and accountability.

Wharton will report to The Star’s incoming CEO and managing director Robbie Cooke, who was appointed to the role recently following the departure of Matt Bekier.

“Scott has exemplary credentials as we drive a renewal program across the group. The work he led at CBA has been recognised as one of the most comprehensive reforms of corporate culture in Australia,” says The Star's interim chairman Ben Heap, who was appointed after John O’Neill resigned just days before appearing at the Bell review into the company's suitability to hold a casino licence earlier this year.

“His leadership capabilities, expertise in delivering significant transformation working closely with regulators, together with his commercial skills and experience managing complex businesses, made him the ideal candidate to take on this key position within the organisation.

“Scott has broad business experience. He has led large teams and managed multifaceted change programs with significant budgets in the United States and Asia as well as Australia. We are delighted to have him join The Star at this important juncture.”

In addition to his executive role at CBA, Wharton has held numerous board positions including at Citigroup where he was the global head of supply chain and is currently co-chairman of Supply Nation and a member of the University of Technology Sydney Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Board.

“I am looking forward to joining The Star at this critical moment in its history,” Wharton says.

“The Star plays an important role in the economies of NSW and Queensland as a major employer and catalyst for the states’ tourism industries. I look forward to working closely with the team at The Star, as well as regulators and other stakeholders.”

The company says its appointment of Wharton is part of building out its ‘Transformation Office’ which is leading The Star’s renewal program implemented in the wake of a New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming (ILGA) review into the casino’s operations in Sydney.

That review resulted in legal counsel assisting ILGA to submit that the gambling and resort business was not suitable to hold a casino licence in Sydney, and that it misled shareholders back in October last year.

“The renewal program commenced several months ago and, while we still have a lot of work ahead of us, we are pleased with the initial progress,” Heap says.

“This program is integral to redesigning the way we do things. It’s about enhancing the systems and controls to help ensure our casinos operate free from criminal influence and creating an environment to work collaboratively and cooperatively with regulators.

“The recently announced appointment of Robbie Cooke as CEO and managing director, and now Scott in a pivotal role as CEO of The Star Sydney and group head of transformation, continues to advance that commitment.”

Shares in SGR are up 1.22 per cent to $2.90 per share at 10.30am AEST.

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