Robbie Cooke steps down as CEO and managing director of The Star

Robbie Cooke steps down as CEO and managing director of The Star

The company has also announced the departure of Christina Katsibouba as group chief financial officer.

Australia.- The Star Entertainment Group has announced that Robbie Cooke has stepped down as group CEO and managing director. Chairman David Foster will step in while a search for a permanent CEO is conducted. 

According to a company filing, Cooke and the board agreed that a change in leadership was in the best interests of the company amid a second inquiry into its operations at its Sydney casino. As Foster will step into an executive role, Anne Ward will assume the role of lead independent director. Cooke will remain a consultant for six months.

Foster said: “Robbie has worked tirelessly since he joined in October 2022, focusing on stabilising the operations, resolving a number of existential threats to the business, addressing separate remediation demands from regulators, and rebuilding the management team and systems – including the addition of more senior risk, compliance and financial crime executives, and the commencement of our culture transformation. 

“Robbie shared in a resolve to put safe, responsible and ethical gaming at the core of what we do. 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.”

Cooke added: “Whilst I find the position exceptionally disappointing, I have reached the conclusion that my continuation in the Group CEO role is not going to be conducive to the NICC determining to find The Star capable of becoming suitable to hold a casino licence in NSW

“In these circumstances, a change in leadership provides the best opportunity for the business to navigate the regulatory pressure it is facing. I take comfort in what we have achieved as a team over the last 16 months, and I’m certain the Company is now on the right path. 

“David and the next CEO have my ongoing support in delivering on the key business and important strategic initiatives that are underway.”

Christina Katsibouba steps down as chief financial officer

In a separate announcement, The Star Entertainment Group has announced that Christina Katsibouba has resigned as chief financial officer and will be replaced by Neale O’Connell on an interim basis.

O’Connell served as the global CFO of Corporate Travel Management from 2019 to 2021 and was group CFO at Tatts Group from 2012 to 2018. Katsibouba, who has been with the company for nine years, including two as head of finance, has decided to leave to pursue other interests.

Foster said: “Christina stepped into the CFO role following the Bell inquiry in 2022 and after two challenging years has decided the time is right to move on. She leaves with both the Board’s and my personal thanks, for her tireless efforts as CFO, and as an executive with the Group. We wish her well.

“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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The Star Entertainment Group