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Current as of 07/12/16 07:39PM NZST

SkyCity names Graeme Stephens as new chief executive

SkyCity Entertainment Group, New Zealand's dominant casino company, appointed Graeme Stephens as its new chief executive, replacing Nigel Morrison who resigned in April following an eight-year tenure.

Zimbabwe-born Stephens, 53, is currently chief executive of casino, resorts and entertainment company Sun International, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and has interests in South Africa and Latin America, Auckland-based SkyCity said in a statement. New Zealand chief operating officer John Mortensen will remain as interim chief executive until Stephens takes up the role on May 1, 2017.

SkyCity, which has four casinos in New Zealand and two in Australia, is developing an international convention centre and hotel alongside its key Auckland casino, expanding its Adelaide casino as it faces declining earnings at its Darwin complex and a slowdown in visits by high-roller gamblers.

Its shares last traded at $3.62 and have shed 17 per cent this year.

"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," Stephens said. "It is a hugely exciting company with an impressive record in developing world-class facilities across its properties. I can see huge potential to capitalise on these developments and grow the business into the future."

Stephens, an accountant by profession, has led Sun International since 2013.

Under his leadership the company rebalanced its portfolio and diversified into growth areas in both South Africa and Latin America, including the redevelopment of flagship resort property Sun City, near Johannesburg, and the construction of a new casino resort, Time Square, near Pretoria. The group operates in six countries and employs more than 13,000 people.

- BusinessDesk

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