The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) has hired John Allen, chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to replace Chris Bayliss as CEO.

He joins the board on March 2nd 2015, until which time the company’s chief financial officer Stewart McRobie will continue to hold the role on a temporary business.

He has been acting CEO, while continuing with his CFO duties, since Bayliss stepped down earlier this year in July, after two years in the role.

Allen joins after serving as CEO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade since 2009, acting as the government’s chief advisor on foreign and trade policy, official development assistance, international law, and diplomatic and consular issues.

Before joining the Ministry in 2009, he worked in a number of roles for the country’s national postal service, the New Zealand Post, before becoming its chief executive in 2003.

NZRB chair Glenda Hughes said Allen’s appointment was an outstanding hire for the organisation, and the country’s wider sports and racing industries.

“We are delighted to be able to appoint someone of John’s calibre and experience to this position,” Hughes said. “Our industry is facing a number of challenges however the opportunities are also vast.

“Throughout the recruitment process we have been seeking a proven strategic leader and business growth agent with international negotiation skills,” she continued. “The last point being a consideration as we enter into negotiations for our international wagering and broadcasting rights agreements.”

Allen said he was excited by the opportunity to join the NZRB, noting that it would be a fun role.

“The NZ Racing Board is a $2bn business that plays a vital role in the New Zealand economy by supporting the racing and sports industries,” he explained. “It is also the owner and operator of the TAB which is an exciting commercial enterprise and iconic New Zealand brand.”

In its full-year results for the year ended July 31st, the NZRB reported a 7 per cent rise in turnover to NZ$2.1bn, with net profit up to $137m.

The country’s government also revealed plans earlier this week designed to combat the effect of offshore betting on the country’s racing and sports industries, setting up a working group to discuss ways to ensure the country’s citizens were betting through licensed entities and ensuring funds were generated for the sports and racing sectors.

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