Robbie Cooke resigns from The Star amid CFO change

Home » Robbie Cooke resigns from The Star amid CFO change

The Star Entertainment Group CEO and managing director Robbie Cooke has stepped down with immediate effect over the belief that the company will fail to navigate its regulatory storm with him at the helm.

The company said Cooke and the board have formed the view that Cooke staying on “was not going to be conducive to the NSW Independent Casino Commission determining to find The Star capable of becoming suitable to hold a casino licence in New South Wales.”

In February, the NICC ordered a second inquiry into the company’s management of its Sydney casino. The Star’s licence for the property was suspended in October 2022 after anti-money laundering failures were discovered by the Commission.

The Star is also under fire over the management of its Queensland properties, which have similarly been placed under state-government supervision.

Cooke said he found the situation “exceptionally disappointing” but added that a “change in leadership” will provide “the best opportunity for the business to navigate the regulatory pressure it is facing.”

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Cooke will remain a consultant to the Company for a period of six months, The Star said, to enable “an orderly leadership transition and provide continuity across business activities.”

The Star’s chairman David Foster will now take on additional responsibilities as executive chair while the company searches for a new permanent CEO.

Foster said: “We remain absolutely committed to being judged suitable to hold a casino licence in New South Wales and Queensland.

“In taking on executive duties, I am determined that the positive momentum at The Star continues, as we work to win back the trust of our stakeholders.

“The many thousands of people working across the company deserve stability and security, and together they all continue to do great things to get the business back on track.”

As for The Star’s Queensland troubles, in November Cooke had spoken of his ambition for the company’s Remediation Plan in turning its fortunes around.

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He said the Remediation Plan – which was approved by the Queensland authorities – would help “rethink, reshape and reimagine” the company’s future, admitting that defining the past year as challenging “completely understates” the lived experience of its employees.

He added at the AGM: “We are on a journey to restore our suitability and to earn back trust – that will take time, but we are committed to being a better company, operating with the highest levels of integrity in all that we do.”

In a defining day for The Star, it also announced that chief financial officer Christina Katsibouba has decided to step down as group chief financial officer after nine years with the company.

Katsibouba will be succeeded by Neale O’Connell, who will join The Star as interim group CFO on March 25.

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Foster said: “Neale is a highly capable and credentialed replacement. With both an industry and listed company track record, he will bring new perspectives and leadership to our executive team.

“Star operates in a highly regulated environment and is going through significant internal change. Neale’s expertise from previous roles will be highly valued.”

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