Crown has lost $121 million as it tries to rebuild amid both a corporate crisis and a pandemic

  • Crown’s profits have soured during the pandemic, posting a $121 million loss in the first half of the financial year.
  • It represents a marked change from the $217 million profit the company made over the same period a year prior, as the closure of its Melbourne casino and costs associated with its Sydney operation hit its bottom line.
  • The entertainment company also announced another major departure in the form of company secretary and general counsel Mary Manos.
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After a horror few weeks for the entertainment company, Crown has laid bare the cost of lockdowns and its unforgettablemoney laundering inquiry.

Reporting results on Thursday, Crown revealed it lost $121 million in the six months to December as it was forced to close its Melbourne casino, the jewel in the proverbial. For comparison, it made more than $217 million in profit, over the same period last year.

The closure of it alongside London’s Crown Aspinalls cost Crown $58.1 million alone, after tax. Despite also facing restrictions early in the pandemic, Crown Perth helped compensate for some of Crown’s losses, with revenue up 8% as West Australia shut its borders and maintained a degree of normalcy throughout.

“The main gaming floor started strongly, with performance moderating across the half. Non-gaming revenues were adversely impacted by capacity constraints and reduced foot traffic to the property, but have shown improvement through the half, particularly over the summer holiday season, despite the restrictions which remain in place,” CFO Alan McGregor said.

JobKeeper payments helped ease its corporate losses as well, with Crown receiving $110 million in JobKeeper subsidies for its Melbourne employees, and another $33.7 million for Perth staff.

Meanwhile, it has had to swallow another $25 million hit from the pre-opening of Crown Sydney, the $2.2 billion project that has been prohibited from opening its gaming floors despite completion in December.

In denying its licence, the NSW regulator has given the organisation a black eye, finding the Sydney casino unfit to operate and effectively demanding the ousting of a number of its directors.

So far four have fallen on their swords, including CEO Ken Barton, with company secretary and general counsel Mary Manos also departing on Thursday.

She will be replaced in her role as secretary by McGregor in the interim, while the general counsel role will become a separate position to be filled.

Despite the enormous upheaval, Helen Coonan, who is to serve as interim executive chair, tried to strike an upbeat tone, after a published inquiry slammed her organisation’s treatment of its money laundering scandal.

On Thursday she called it “uncomfortable reading” but labeled it “an opportunity for a complete and comprehensive corporate re-set.”

“We recognise the need for immediate and swift action and I would like to reiterate my commitment to driving the necessary ‘root and branch’ change that is required,” Coonan said. “Crown has committed to working constructively with ILGA to advance reforms necessary to allow it to give effect to the Restricted Gaming Licence in Sydney.”

She will pocket an annual salary of $2.5 million filling in for Barton until a proper replacement is found. Interestingly that is $800,000 less than Barton made while on the job, despite his being found by the Bergin Inquiry as “no match for what is needed at the helm”.

What Coonan’s pay cut says about the new executive chair’s abilities is unclear.