Switkowski replaces Coonan as Crown chair

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Former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski has been appointed Crown Resorts' new chair, replacing Helen Coonan after the punishing Victorian royal commission and NSW gaming inquiry.

The James Packer-backed group on Thursday announced Ms Coonan would on Friday retire from both the board and her role as Crown chair.

Dr Switkowski is currently working as chancellor of RMIT University and as non-executive chairman of NBN Co.

The 73-year-old businessman served as Telstra chief executive from 1999 to 2004 and later led AFL club Essendon's investigation into its supplements scandal.

Dr Switkowski will formally take the reins following approvals, a Crown spokeswoman said, with non-executive director Jane Halton to act as the firm's interim chair.

Ms Coonan, who became Crown boss in February 2020 after joining as a director in 2011, said it had been a privilege to serve on the company's board.

The former Howard government minister added that her aim had been to drive a "transformation" of the company, after its reputation was left in tatters by the inquiries in NSW and Victoria as well as an ongoing royal commission in WA.

"Crown is firmly on a path way to rebuild trust and positioned for success over the long term," Ms Coonan said in a statement.

She also welcomed the appointment of Dr Switkowski and said that a smooth succession was critical for Crown.

Ms Coonan became the focus of intense scrutiny at the tail-end of Victoria's recent inquiry into whether Crown could retain a licence for its Melbourne operations.

The inquiry, overseen by former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein, revealed that she wrote a letter with her lawyers at Arnold Bloch Leibler on July 2 requesting an "urgent meeting" with gaming minister Melissa Horne, stating it is "not in the public interest for Crown to fail".

Her exit from Crown, flagged earlier this month, comes after Steve McCann replaced Xavier Walsh as chief executive officer.

In his closing submissions to the Victorian inquiry, counsel assisting Adrian Finanzio said neither Mr Walsh nor Ms Coonan could be the "credible face of change" that was needed.

"Their mutual failings underscore the culture still at play at Crown," Mr Finanzio said.

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