Crown appoints former Virgin Australia boss Borghetti as new chairman

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Borghetti will replace William McBeath, who is stepping down as chairman after taking on the role in July 2022. McBeath will continue as an independent non-executive director of Crown.

An experienced executive, Borghetti has been chairman of the Crown Sydney business since mid-2022. He was appointed by Blackstone after the private equity giant acquired Crown for AU$8.87bn (£4.63bn/€5.43bn/US$5.93bn).

Prior to this, he spent more than 45 years working within the aviation industry. This includes a spell as chief executive of airline Virgin Australia, which he led for 10 years until March 2019. 

Borghetti is currently a director of Balmoral Pastoral Investments and a member of O’Connell Street Associates. In addition, he previously served as a director at Brisbane Airport Corporation, Alinta Energy, Coca-Cola Amatil, Energy Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Despite taking on the wider chairman role, he will also continue as chair of Crown Sydney.

Borghetti focused on compliance, safety and profit 

“I look forward to continuing the transformation of Crown,” Borghetti said. “This includes ensuring the company exceeds the expectations of all its stakeholders, including government, regulators, guests and team members. 

“The board’s priority remains on compliant, safe and profitable operations while ensuring we position the business for future growth.”

The outgoing McBeath also reflected on his time as chair and backed Borghetti to succeed as his replacement.

“As chair, my priority was to lead the board and support the executive leadership team to successfully deliver the extensive regulatory and cultural reform and remediation programme for Crown Resorts and to achieve suitability. 

“I am proud that both Crown Melbourne and Crown Sydney have retained their licences to operate during this time. Remediation work in Crown Perth is also well progressed. 

“Now is the appropriate time to appoint an Australian-based chair. He will continue Crown’s focus on transformation, regulatory compliance and safe and sustainable future growth. 

“I am delighted that John Borghetti will continue this critical work as chair and lead the Crown Resorts Board in its strategic development of Crown’s businesses in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, working constructively with government and regulators.”

Crown keeps hold of New South Wales and Victoria licence

The appointment comes in the wake of Crown receiving a major boost in April with the news it can retain its casino licence for its Sydney property. This follows three years of intensive remediation in the state.

Crown was deemed “unsuitable” to operate a casino at Barangaroo in Sydney in February 2021 in the Bergin report. This came after the New South Wales Casino Inquiry found evidence its facilities and accounts were used for money laundering.

The inquiry also found Crown engaged with junket operators with alleged connections to organised crime without carrying out proper due diligence. Furthermore, it put employees at risk of harm in its promotion of gambling in mainland China.

As such, Crown was unable to operate a casino in its dining and hotel tower to patrons for more than a year.

Crown did eventually secure permission to operate in NSW 16 months later, shortly after the Blackstone acquisition. This was contingent on Crown not breaching more rules.

Having monitored Crown since permission was granted, the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission said it was satisfied with Crown’s progress. As such, it has been allowed to retain its licence.

The decision came just weeks after Crown was also allowed to keep its casino licence in Victoria. The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) in March ruled Crown is suitable to hold a licence for its Melbourne property.

Like in New South Wales, Crown implemented widespread changes at the casino in the wake of the Royal Commission into casino licences. This progress was enough for the VGCCC to hand Crown a reprieve. 

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