Star Entertainment Group brings in former Crown Resorts boss Steve McCann to steer the ship

Simone Grogan and Neale Prior
The Nightly
Steve McCann was CEO of Lendlease for 12 years and CEO of Crown Resorts during a takeover.
Steve McCann was CEO of Lendlease for 12 years and CEO of Crown Resorts during a takeover. Credit: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Embattled casino operator Star Entertainment Group has lured former Crown Resorts and Lendlease boss Steve McCann out of semi-retirement with a $10 million-plus bonuses package.

Having pocketed $9 million for 14 months spent nursing Crown into its Blackstone takeover, Mr McCann will be paid a $2.5 million cash bonus when he starts his $2.5m-a-year job as Star chief executive and managing director on July 8.

And Mr McCann will pocket at least $7.5m even if Star’s flounders in its fight to keep continue operating its flagship Sydney casino and three casinos in south-east Queensland.

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The NSW Independent Casino Commission on Wednesday afternoon said it was “encouraged” by the appointment. “Mr McCann’s experience in navigating the complexities of remediation will serve The Star well as it prepares for the challenges ahead,” a commission representative said.

The commission has set a September 30 deadline for barrister Adam Bell to file a report on Star’s response to his August 2022 report highlighting dodgy money transfer schemes and blasting “deeply troubling culture permeating the ranks of senior management”.

Mr McCann was installed as CEO of Crown in May 2021 on a bonus-laden $2.5m annual pay-packet following a boardroom clean out and as the Melbourne and Perth casino operator grappled with damaging public probes.

He triggered around $6.7m of incentives when he left Crown after US private equity giant Blackstone finally nailed down the $8.9 billion takeover of the stabilised group. He was chief executive of Lendlease from November 2009 to May 2021.

Star chair Anne Ward said the board was “very pleased to have secured a CEO of Steve’s calibre”.

“Given his time with Crown, and previous long-standing leadership at Lendlease, he has the right credentials to lead The Star’s remediation program,” said Ms Ward.

Ms Ward joined the Star board in November 2022 as the company was going through a board and executive shake-up.

Mr Bell documented alleged rorts by bypass Chinese capital flight laws and systematic failings in managing the money laundering and terrorism finance risks linked to junkets. He found business goals were given “undue priority” over dealing with money laundering and terrorism financing risks.

Queensland authorities last year suspend Star’s Brisbane and Gold Coast licences for three months based on Mr Bell’s original report.

Those suspensions have been deferred until December this year so the Queensland authorities can deal with the Bell update.

Star’s plans for a second Brisbane casino at its $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf joint venture development could also be affected.

But Mr McCann will be a winner either way, with Star disclosing to the stock exchange on Wednesday that the trigger events for his $5m long-term incentive payment include Queensland authorities imposing licence conditions preventing the dice rolling at Queen’s Wharf by December 31.

And as long as these woes are not attributable to him, Mr McCann’s $5m long-term bonus will also be triggered by the company collapsing or having any of its gaming licences cancelled within two years.

He will also receive this bonus if Star is subject to a successful takeover bid.

He also stands to receive a $2.5m bonus for the next two financial years, plus $2.5m compensation if his long-term bonus is not triggered.

Mr McCann said he was joining Star at a “critical time” and “there are many complex issues and challenges for the company to address,” he said.

“I am committed to working with the Board and the various stakeholders to help drive change, restore confidence and achieve a sustainable resolution,” Mr McCann said.

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