A major shakeup at SkyCity Entertainment Group has seen three executives suddenly depart the business.
Chief executive Graeme Stephens isunexpectedly leaving the business at the end of the month, to be replaced by chief operating officer Michael Ahearne.
In the shock move not previously signalled, SkyCity chairman Rob Campbell announced the change as well as resignations of chief financial officer Rob Hamilton and chief marketing officer Liza McNally.
Ahearne is currently SkyCity’s chief operating officer and has overseen SkyCity’s operations across New Zealand and Australia since December 2017 and launched SkyCity online casino in August 2019.
He has significant global experience in the gaming industry in land-based and online casinos.
Campbell thanked Stephens for his leadership of the company since his appointment in May 2017 but did not explain the reason behind his departure.
What has happened at the company for three senior executives to leave at once is unclear at this stage.
Incoming CEO Ahearne previously held a number of senior commercial, operational and product leadership roles at Paddy Power Betfair, one of the world’s leaders in sports betting and gaming.
Before that, he had a 13-year career in the Australasian gaming and entertainment sector, 10 years of which were spent at The Star Casino, Sydney, where he held senior management positions and, following that, three years as chief operating officer for Aristocrat in the Australia and New Zealand regions.
He is a qualified accountant and holds an MBA from the University of Technology, Sydney.
SkyCity has also released a major investor presentation today.
The business is about to open a major long-planned development in Adelaide this month where it has built a huge new hotel beside its existing casino. The presentation said it was taking hotel bookings from early December and “up to 700 new staff [are] in [the] process of being hired”.
The building project was handed over in October on time and on budget, it said.
Good progress is being made on the NZ International Convention Centre and Horizon Hotel projects. There had been no change to the estimated reinstatement costs of at least $336m, the company said.
SkyCity said it was on-track to resume paying dividends from the end of 2021.
It had available liquidity of around $500m and its major projects in Auckland and Adelaide were fully funded.
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