Sun, Aug 4, 10:22pm by Kevin Pitstock
Barry Felstead, who has been a top executive at the Crown Perth casino for the past 6 years, is now the new CEO for Crown Limited, effective August 1st. Mr Felstead replaces the departing Greg Hawkins at the chief executive officer of Crown Group. James Packer, who owns a 49% share of Crown, remains the chairman of the board and principal owner of Australia’s biggest land-based casino business.
The departure of Greg Hawkins comes just weeks after Crown Ltd won a major coup by receiving approval to build a new casino in Sydney Harbour, ending Echo’s long monopoly and positing a rival to the Star Sydney Casino. Hawkins has been working since on the prospect of a new casino in Brisbane.
Barry Felstead was the chief operating officer at Burswood Ltd, which owned the Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth. When Crown bought Burswood Ltd in 2007, Mr Felstead became the Executive Director of Burswood Ltd, while the complex he oversaw became known as the Crown Perth Casino (from 2009 onward).
Earlier this month, Barry Felstead had his old duties combined with important new ones, signalling his rise in the corporate structure. On August 1st, 2013, Mr Felstead was named Chief Executive Officer of Australian Resorts at Crown Limited. He is also the Joint Chairman of FutureNow, a member of the General Council of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia, and a National Councillor of the Australia Business Arts Foundation.
The coming years will be full of opportunities and challenges for the new CEO of Crown Group. Besides the opportunity to win bid processes for casinos in Brisbane and Gold Coast, James Packer hopes to build a resort complex in Sri Lanka. The company also hopes to expand into the Philippines. James Packer wants to lure Asian high rollers to his various gaming properties inside and outside of Australia.
At the same time, Chinese billionaire Tony Fung recently announced a direct challenge to Crown. Mr Fung hopes to build a $4.2 billion casino complex in North Queensland which is planned to far outstrip any resort Crown has ever owned. Meanwhile, a lawsuit continues in the United States for a failed casino project in Las Vegas in 2008-09. Also, all gambling operators in Australia face a public increasingly sceptical about the social effects of big time gambling, along with lawmakers who often want to take advantage of public circumspection to further their own agendas.
It appears James Packer has touted a man who has ascended through the ranks over the last few tumultuous years. Barry Felstead should earn his salary, which, according to BusinessWeek, was AUD $2,580,000 in financial year 2012. Given that Mr Felstead has been in the Crown Group since James Packer first began turning it into his major business interest, this latest move appears to have had an air of inevitability about it.
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