Crown CEO Ken Barton has resigned, the latest and largest head to roll at the casino. He could walk away with as much as $77 million.

Helen Coonan will takeover as Crown executive chair after Ken Barton resigned as CEO. (Eamon Gallagher, SMH)
  • Ken Barton has resigned from his role as CEO and managing director of Crown after an inquiry into its failure to stem money laundering was published.
  • The 18-month Bergin Inquiry found that Barton was “no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee”.
  • He could walk away with as much as $77 million in compensation, including a $3.3 million pay packet, and options worth as much as $68 million.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Crown’s top executive could not survive a damning inquiry that found regulators could not have confidence in the company under his stewardship.

CEO and managing director Ken Barton stepped down on Monday after Crown was hung out to dry by an inquiry that found its Sydney operation wasn’t suitable to hold a casino licence at this time.

“I am absolutely certain the business is now on the right path as it works to restore confidence in its operations. I am committed to assisting with the transition to new leadership,” Barton said in a statement to the ASX.

While Barton was given a fairly congratulatory send off by Helen Coonan, who assumes the role of executive chairman while the company searches for a new CEO, the remarks don’t square with the inquiry’s parting shots.

Former Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin, who led it, wrote in her final report that that the gaming regulator “would be justified in concluding that it cannot have any confidence in dealing with Mr Barton as a director of the Licensee or Crown.”

Despite that damning appraisal, and the fact it compelled Barton to leave, Coonan described Barton as having been “invaluable” and having “always put the interests of Crown first”.

He will at any rate jump from Crown with his golden parachute intact. Barton will leave with more than 143,000 Crown shares valued at roughly $1.4 million, and more than 11.5 million options.

While 3 million of those carry an exercise price of $11.43, well above today’s trading price, the remaining 8.5 million can be bought at $1.45. If those are ordinary shares, and Crown lets Barton have them – there’s no indication so far it won’t – he potentially would be able to sell them for a whopping $72.6 million profit.

At any rate, with a 12-month termination period, Barton will likely pocket his $3.3 million pay packet this year anyway.

In sum, Barton could end up walking away from Crown with more than $77 million, having served ten years as CFO before assuming the top job. Not bad for someone singled out by Bergin as “no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee”.

Barton is the fourth Crown director to fall

Barton is the latest in a series of scalps taken by the Bergin Inquiry. Since the final report was made public last week, no fewer than four directors have left Crown including former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou and two close Packer associates, Michael Johnson and Guy Jalland.

A fifth, John Poynton, is fighting to remain after severing ties with Packer’s private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) in a bid to deal with apparent conflicts of interest.

With Barton’s departure likely to be the last of the executive clearing house, Crown will now face a “full and wide-ranging forensic audit … to ensure that the casino operations are free from criminal influence and exploitation.”

As long as it keeps it together throughout, the Sydney casino could well be requited with its licence sooner rather than later.

Crown has been contacted for comment.

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