Sun International CEO heading to New Zealand

Johannesburg – Sun International CEO, Graeme Stephens, whose resignation was unexpectedly unannounced on Friday, will be taking up a new role in New Zealand.

According to a statement released by Sun International on Monday, Stephens will be leaving the resort hotel and casino chain at the end of April 2017. He will take up the role of CEO at SKYCITY Entertainment Group in New Zealand. He is to be succeeded by current chief financial officer Anthony Leeming.

“It’s been an extremely busy few years at the helm of a very dynamic company and I believe we have accomplished an enormous amount, sometimes against the odds,” stated Stephens.  He has been CEO of the group for five years. He will remain a shareholder.  

Stephens will take over from Nigel Morrison, who resigned from SKYCITY in April. In a statement by SKYCITY, chairperson Chris Moller shared his delight on Stephens’ appointment.

“Graeme has extensive experience in developing and opening world-class casinos, hotels and resorts. He has deep expertise in the gaming, hospitality, and leisure industries,” said Moller. “His record managing a diverse and fast-growing listed company, operating in a variety of locations, makes Graeme the best person to lead SKYCITY,” he said.

“It is a real privilege to have an opportunity to join SKYCITY at a time when there are a number of large projects currently underway... I can see huge potential to capitalise on these developments and grow the business into the future,” said Stephens.

Stephens’ resignation raised concerns about the completion of projects undertaken by the group, under his leadership. But the group stated that by the time of his departure, the “major objectives” set by the board will be achieved.

This includes the construction of Time Square at Menlyn Maine, to open in early April 2017. “Given the significance of this investment we take comfort from Graeme’s commitment to stay until end April to help ensure a smooth opening,” said chairman Valli Moosa.

This also includes the group’s offshore expansion into Latin America, through the merger with Dreams. “The merger with Dreams has been achieved, and Sun International now has a controlling interest in the largest gaming group in Latam,” stated Moosa.

He added that he was satisfied with the progress made with Stephens as CEO. “We brought Graeme on to transform the company. Operationally the business has been restructured, a new management team with deep expertise has been employed, new systems and analytics have been implemented, and a new brand and loyalty program have been rolled out.”

Operationally the business has been restructured, having exited its non-core African assets and increased focus on those in South Africa that comprise the core of its business.

“The flagship Sun City resort has been redeveloped and strategies are well advanced for Sibaya, Carnival City, GrandWest and Boardwalk,” added Moosa.

Sun International shares were trading at R82.60 at the time markets opened. Following the announcement on Friday, the share price closed at R83.50. The share price was at R82.73 when markets closed on Monday.

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