CEOs of fallen takeover targets rarely survive the aftermath, let alone rise to take charge of the predator’s helm – making Rob Hines a real exception to the rule.

Hines, 48, has been keeping an extremely low profile since taking over from Richard Barnes as managing director of Queensland casino operator Jupiters Ltd last month.

But that’s set to change today when he fronts analysts and the financial press to unveil what is expected to be a record June-year profit of about $73 million and articulate the Hines vision for Jupiters’ future.

Jupiters, run by Barnes for 13 years, inherited Hines in January last year through its $143 million takeover of AWA.

Hines still lives in Sydney with his wife of 25 years Tessa, who runs a physiotherapy practice, and plans to continue commuting to the Gold Coast for the time being until the couple sort out their affairs and can move up permanently.

A keen sailor, Hines has a 34-foot Northshore moored at the Middle Harbour Yacht Club in Sydney, and joined thousands of other Sydney fun runners yesterday to take part in the annual City to Surf race.

Back in January 1998, Hines was head-hunted by AWA’s former chairman Trevor Kennedy from Keycorp to replace CEO John Rouse, but had just 18 months to stamp his imprimatur on the company before the Jupiters Part A lobbed.

Kennedy, who sought Hines out on the Online Casino Malaysia recommendation of former Optus chief Geoff Cousins, said he proved an “outstanding success” in that short time.

“He’s a very capable manager, very cool under pressure, focused, a good strategic thinker and very good with people too. So I can’t speak too highly of him,” he told The Courier-Mail.

“I was always confident he’d do well because of his capability and track record.”

Jupiters – which operates three hotel casinos in Townsville, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Centrebet and a statewide Keno franchise – was attracted to AWA by its profitable core wagering and gaming business and IT network services operation.

Hines, who received $300,000 from Jupiters in return for his one million AWA options, was the only director retained after the takeover dust settled.

Jupiters chairman Lawrie Willett said the company’s ability to appoint Barnes’ successor from within was a hallmark of good corporate governance.

“And we were happy to find we had more than just one executive who could have succeeded him,” he said.

Willett also welcomed timely decisions by institutions like ING Australia and Perpetual Trustees to lift their stakes in the company which he said had been the first casino operator to “break out of the box” and diversify.

“I’ve always felt we weren’t fully appreciated by the the marketplace and like to think we are new starting to be better understood,” he said.

Significantly, the stock has been trading near record highs, fuelled partly by takeover speculation, and closed on Friday down 4c at $4.32.

One of Hines’ first moves since taking charge has been to dispense with a security door leading into the reception area of the company’s ninth floor Gold Coast headquarters.

This signals a more relaxed open-door policy than that presented by Barnes, who was so uncomfortable with the media that press conferences were a rarity.

Hines originally trained in the UK as an engineer and computer hardware technician, later moving into software and then marketing.

He built his first television at 15, his first computer at 19 and still likes to fiddle around with electronics.

 

Hines started in IT in the UK in 1969 with Burroughs Corp, moved to the US, and then to New Zealand after Burroughs and Sperry Corp merged in 1986 to form Unisys.

In 1991, he moved to Australia and subsequently joined the fledgling pay TV group Optus Vision in 1994.

But with no immediate opportunity for career development Hines started casting his eye around for other opportunities, in the end settling on Keycorp.

Again it was ambition and the lure of corporate power which three months later prompted Hines to jump the Keycorp ship and join AWA where the role of CEO beckoned.

Jupiters put paid to that plan, but Hines would probably be the first to agree the takeover of AWA proved serendipitous.

The top job at Jupiters, which boasts a market capitalisation of some $815 million, has truly catapulted Hines into Australia’s corporate big league. Watch this space.

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