Crown Resorts rubs salt into shareholders’ wounds

Crown Resorts Ltd’s flagship tower nears completion at Barangaroo, Sydney, Australia, April 17, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Coates/File Photo

HONG KONG, Sept 10 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Crown Resorts (CWN.AX) hit investors with a double whammy on Thursday. Its auditor confirmed the casino operator’s future as a “going concern” read more is doubtful. Meanwhile, the company revealed it’s paying departed executives almost A$10 million ($7.4 million) in termination benefits, while former boss Ken Barton could receive options worth more than A$70 million at the current price.

Crown’s plight is no surprise given its enduring governance crisis. But the remuneration report adds insult to injury, as shareholders received zero dividends in the last financial year, and earnings per share and the stock price are at historic lows.

Aggrieved shareholders have a way to hit back. More than a quarter of votes cast at last year’s annual meeting rejected the 2020 pay report. If they repeat that at next month’s gathering, they can force all directors to stand for re-election. Most of those responsible for Crown’s crisis are long gone, though. Another upheaval would only complicate efforts to save what was once a promising business. (By Katrina Hamlin)

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Editing by Antony Currie and Katrina Hamlin

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