Mark Stewart will step down as Chair of New Zealand’s national gambling operator, TAB NZ, at the end of August, with Anna Stove stepping up as his interim replacement.
TAB NZ stressed that Stewart had overseen ‘two years of transformative change’ at the helm of the operator after being appointed to the role at the start of the 2021/22 financial year.
He most recently oversaw TAB NZ’s newly signed strategic partnership with UK-headquartered FTSE100 gambling group Entain, which will provide technology services to the national operator over a 25-year period.
TAB NZ CEO, Nick Roberts, said: “We are indebted to Mark for generously giving his time to TAB NZ. We have been incredibly lucky to have had access to Mark’s unparalleled experience and unique skill set.
“His leadership at TAB NZ has changed the lives of tens of thousands of Kiwis, from those in our sporting communities to those whose jobs are reliant on the domestic racing industry.”
Filling the Chair vacancy left by Stewart, Stove has been appointed to the position by Minister for Racing, Hon Kieran McAnulty, and will assume interim duties on 1 September.
Although only on an interim basis, the appointment as Chair marks a promotion for Stove, who has served as Deputy Chair of TAB NZ since 1 August 2021, and is also a member of the Racing Industry Transition Agency Board.
Stove remarked: “I want to thank Mark for his incredible leadership and drive. I am very excited to be picking up the reins as we pay particular focus to working with the Government on modernising New Zealand’s gambling settings.
“A legislative net which restores TAB NZ’s monopoly in the modern, online world will not only result in better harm minimisation outcomes for Kiwi punters, but would also see an immediate funding uplift to racing and sport.”
TAB NZ also confirmed that three of its board members will retain their positions – Bill Birnie, Wendie Harvey, and Raewyn Lovett – although Jason Fleming has resigned from his role, and will take on duties of General Manager Commercial for the operator.
As mentioned above, one of Stove’s key objectives in her new role will be to coordinate the partnership with Entain, with the duo set to enter into a gross profit share arrangement for the operator’s wagering services provided to TAB NZ.
The company will support two TAB NZ linear broadcasting channels and a network of around 500 retail venues, and has committed to pay NZ$260m (around £132m), with NZ$160m (around £81m) payable in 2023.
Commenting on Stove’s appointment as interim Chair and reflecting on his tenure with TAB NZ, Stewart said: “It has been a rewarding couple of years on the TAB NZ Board and more importantly we’ve delivered a sustainable long-term outcome for our stakeholders through the Entain partnership.
“I would like to thank the Minister, and all my director and management colleagues who I have worked with during this revolutionary time for the business. They have all shown great integrity and commitment to reaching a once in a generation outcome that we are all very proud of.
“I have the utmost confidence in the remaining Board and management team continuing to build on the Entain partnership for the benefit of our country.
“I am also delighted that Anna has been appointed as Interim Chair. We have benefited from her governance experience in racing and commercial acumen over the last couple of years.”