The Australian Securities Exchange said after market hours on Monday that shares in Asian casino operator Donaco International Ltd were once again free to be traded on that bourse.
They had been suspended since December 2, pending the “appointment of sufficient directors” as required by Australia’s Corporations Act, which demands a minimum of two Australian resident directors, according to a previous filing from the company.
Donaco’s flagship venue, Star Vegas Resort and Club, is located in Poipet, Cambodia. In Vietnam, the group runs the Aristo International Hotel and accompanying casino, which mainly serves players from neighbouring mainland China.
At the same time as the share reinstatement announcement, Donaco said in a filing it had newly appointed two “independent and resident non-executive directors”: Mel Ashton and Simon Vertullo.
Mr Ashton, a seasoned listed-company director said to have 37 years of experience, and a founder of PPB Advisory – an Australian firm specialising in corporate restructuring that is now part of business services group PwC – becomes also Donaco chairman.
Mr Vertullo is described as “an experienced chartered accountant with broad financial, transactional and operational expertise,” at listed and large privately-owned companies Australia, parts of Asia and the United Kingdom. He has worked for the corporate restructuring practices of business advisory group KordaMentha and business services conglomerate KPMG International.
The incoming chairman Mr Ashton said in a prepared statement in the filing: “The board of Donaco is focused on supporting the management team, transitioning to a new chief executive over the coming six months and on resolving distractions that have hampered the company’s performance in recent times.”
Last week it was announced that Paul Arbuckle – a gaming executive recruited after a senior role at Genting Singapore Ltd’s Resorts World Sentosa casino complex in Singapore – had tendered his resignation as chief executive of Donaco after only six months at the helm.
News of his departure came shortly after a Donaco annual general meeting on November 29 that was designed to air a request by some minority investors for a clearout of the board, and that resulted in a number of board candidates proposed by the management being rejected in a vote, and the removal of the previous chairman Stuart McGregor.
The new chairman Mr Ashton said in Monday’s statement that, with the help of a new board with people that had “strong” credentials in business turnarounds, the focus would be on “stabilising the company and delivering for shareholders.”
The new chairman added the directors would “look for opportunities to strengthen the board further with additional industry expertise”.
Donaco has been roiled by a number of issues over the past 12 months. They included its long-running dispute with the Thai people that sold the group the rights to run Star Vegas, and the extended leave of absence – for health reasons – of the then chief executive Joey Lim Keong Yew.
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”There are likely to be cancellations of some Chinese New Year casino and junket parties and events [in Macau]”
Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Sanford Bernstein analysts