Game on at Crown Sydney, Medibank offering customers $620 cashback and Telstra Energy unveiled

Crown Sydney CWN Medibank MPL cashback Telstra Energy TLS AGL Commonwealth Banks CBA ASX
The New South Wales gaming authority has given Crown Sydney the go-ahead to restart gaming operations on a members only basis.

Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN) has announced the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) in New South Wales has finally given Crown Sydney the green light to recommence its gaming operations.

The approval comes 16 months after Crown Sydney was deemed unfit to hold a gaming licence.

Crown’s gaming operations in Sydney will now open members only facilities, under an initial conditional period which expires on 31 December 2023.

Crown chief executive officer and managing director Steve McCann said the announcement caps off a significant day for all parties involved.

“Our vision is to become one of the most respected operators of integrated resorts anywhere in the world,” he said.

“Since it opened, Crown Sydney has provided the city with an unrivalled level of luxury accommodation, restaurants and bars and now with the opening of gaming, we can offer our full suite of world-class facilities.”

During this closely monitored period, Crown will work with the ILGA and Kroll Associates to prove its suitability and that it is carrying out the agreed remediation action plan.

The news is encouraging for Sydney’s hospitality industry, expected to employ over 2,000 people when fully operational in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

AGL Energy

Outgoing AGL Energy (ASX: AGL) chair Peter Botten declared his reassurance to shareholders for the company’s future as its share price sank.

The path forward will include an elaborate review of the company’s strategic direction as well as a number of board and management changes.

After the announcement of the withdrawal of its planned demerger, one of Australia’s leading energy companies vowed to commit to its review of the company’s direction.

The company aims, through the review, to build shareholder value and take on a significant role in helping Australia meet its energy requirements through its energy transition.

Mr Botten outlined the company’s aims in a letter to shareholders this week.

“AGL has the opportunity to play our part in helping Australia achieve net zero and will do so by leveraging our extensive energy and innovation expertise,” he said.

As well as Mr Botten departing, AGL chief executive officer and managing director Graeme Hunt agreed to step down following the demerger’s failure.

Mr Botten believes the search for new leaders is well underway.

“We are committed to ensuring that these processes are both thorough and timely to ensure stability of leadership to take this company forward,” he said.

Medibank

In an effort to continue to give back during COVID-19 riddled times, Medibank Private (ASX: MPL) has announced it will offer an additional $205 million in COVID-19 permanent net claims savings to its customers.

Customers will receive cashback of up to $620, which will be deposited into their bank accounts.

With this announcement, the support Medibank has offered since the pandemic started now totals $682 million.

Medibank chief executive officer David Koczkar said the company stood strong on its promise to give back to customers.

“We said right from the start that we would not profit from COVID-19,” he said.

“We’ve stuck by that promise with our broader package now reaching a record $682 million.”

“Returning these COVID-19 savings back to our customers is the right thing to do,” he added.

Mr Koczkar said the cashback helps to alleviate the pain caused by the troubled times households have endured, dealing with rising inflation, interest rates, fuel prices and home energy costs.

Commonwealth Bank

Commonwealth Bank’s (ASX:CBA) investment into buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider Klarna is facing troubled times after its value sank significantly this week.

Australia’s biggest bank invested millions into the Swedish-owned company, which downsized its latest fundraising from $1.4 billion to $722 million.

On top of this, Klarna’s valuation sat at around $43.3 billion when seeking new investment but has since halved, signalling more warnings over the troubled sector.

Klarna has sacked 10% of its employees to aid in cutting costs.

Commonwealth Bank currently owns a 5% stake in the Swedish company, investing $433 million in 2019 and 2020.

Commonwealth Bank chief executive officer Matt Comyn remains strong in stating the company will continue to back Klarna.

Klarna recently reported a quarterly loss of SEK$2.5 billion (A$357 million), which was three times higher than the first three months of 2021.

Payments consultancy McLean Roche founder and chief executive officer Grant Halverson said a reduction in funding is starting to shed light on “reluctant investors”.

“Klarna is already totally unprofitable, losses … in 2021 [jumped] to $US831 million, while first quarter 2022 losses jumped $US250 million ($A360 million) – it’s all going the wrong way,” he said.

Telstra

After a year of rumours and speculation, Australian telecommunications company Telstra (ASX: TLS) has unveiled its new energy division.

The announcement comes as Telstra aims to achieve its ambitious goal to become a top five energy retailer by 2025.

To achieve this goal, the company is relying on investment in renewable energy and offering 100% carbon neutral plans.

“Telstra Energy customers will receive the same electricity from the grid as they would with any retailer – a mix of fossil fuels and renewable sources,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

“What sets us apart is our investments in renewable energy projects.”

Telstra Energy looks set to compete with other companies including AGL (ASX: AGL) , Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) and Energy Australia, which also let customers bundle internet plans.

In a ploy to differentiate Telstra from the other energy companies, it will be the only Australian energy retailer that has committed to never charging a loyalty tax.

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