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Ziggy Switkowski to replace Coonan as Crown chair

Crisis-stricken casino giant Crown Resorts has appointed former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski as its next chairman to replace Helen Coonan, who will resign from the company on Friday.

Crown said in an announcement released to the ASX late on Thursday that Mr Switkowski would join the $6.2 billion group’s board as soon as he receives probity clearance from state gambling regulators, with board member and former senior public servant Jane Halton to serve as interim chairman.

Ziggy Switkowski has been appointed Crown chair.

Ziggy Switkowski has been appointed Crown chair.Credit:Attila Csaszar

Ms Coonan said last month that she would step down by the end of August after counsel assisting the Victorian royal commission into Crown said the former Howard government minister was not a “credible” face for change at the group.

The Victorian royal commission and a separate royal commission in WA are weighing up whether Crown is fit to hold the licences for its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

The licence for Crown’s new Sydney casino remains suspended after an independent inquiry in NSW ruled in February it was not a suitable licence holder in light of evidence it had facilitated money laundering and been infiltrated by organised crime.

Dr Switkowski is a highly experienced corporate operator, having been the CEO of both Telstra and Optus, and is currently a director of the NBN Co. The RMIT University chancellor and nuclear scientist has gambling industry experience having previously been a director at Tabcorp.

“Ziggy’s experience and capabilities are well suited to meeting the challenges currently confronting Crown,” the three members of Crown’s board (Ms Halton, Toni Korsanos and Nigel Morrison) said in a statement.

“We are determined to restore the trust of regulators, investors, employees, customers and the wider
community.”

The board members said that Ms Coonan had “stepped up” when Crown needed strong and principled leadership and “played a crucial role in stabilising” the group.

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