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New Zealand names first TAB NZ Board after racing reforms

20th July 2021 9:34 am GMT

The New Zealand Government has announced the first board of directors of TAB NZ as it works to finalise the operational transition of the organisation.

Four members of the board were recommended to the minister of racing by the selection panel established under the Racing Act, with three nominated by the racing codes.

The seven new members come with experience in racing and sport administration, business and governance, the betting industry, broadcasting and gambling harm minimisation.

The first TAB NZ Board comprises Mark Stewart (chair), Anna Stove (deputy chair), Bill Birnie, Paul Bittar, Jason Fleming, Wendie Harvey, and Raewyn Lovett. Birnie, Bittar and Fleming are the nominees of the racing codes.

“This Board will progress from the excellent work done by the interim board, put in place in August 2020,” said minister of racing Grant Robertson. “The selection panel has taken particular care to work thoroughly through the process to identify suitable candidates. I thank them for their work.

“I am excited to have the new Board in place. This is a significant step for TAB New Zealand. I also want to thank the interim Board for the work it has done to help get us to this point.”

The new board will commence on 1 August for a term of three years, with the appointments welcomed by TAB NZ’s interim board.

“As an interim Board, we’ve focused on creating the best possible foundation for the incoming Board to ensure the organisation is well placed to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead,” said incumbent TAB NZ chair Liz Dawson. “It’s great to see two members of the interim Board carrying over to the new Board which will provide some continuity for this work.”

One of the last duties of the interim board will be finalising TAB NZ's five year plan and FY2022-2024 Statement of Intent as requested by the minister, which are due by 31 July.

“These documents will help ensure the organisation not only builds on the momentum of the reform programme, but also capitalises on its strong financial performance across the last 12 months,” continued Dawson. “The purpose of these documents is not to bind the new Board to any particular course of action, but rather to support them to make any decisions with the best information available.

“We believe the next few years will present considerable upside and excitement for this business and for all those who benefit from it, although there will be difficult challenges and decisions for the new Board to tackle along the way. We wish them every possible success.”

TAB NZ chief transition officer Dean McKenzie said the new board will inherit an organisation with strong underlying financial health, with distributions to the racing codes expected to top $170m next year and distributions to sport projected to increase to $19.7m next year.

“TAB NZ’s distributions to both racing and sport are projected to increase significantly next year and increased revenue from improved margin performance has played a key role in that,” said McKenzie. “As chief transition officer, I’m looking forward to working with the new Board until they’ve got their feet under the desk and are in the position to appoint a new chief executive.”

At the end of May, TAB NZ’s reported profit across the financial year to date was $145.4m, which was $35.7m above budget.

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