Head of Ardent's US business to step down

Stuart Condie and Prashant Mehra | 12 Sep 2017

Page 1 of 1

SYDNEY - [AAP] The chief executive of Ardent Leisure's (ASX: AAD) US business will step down in November.

The theme park operator did not give a reason for Charlie Keegan's resignation, but said he would consult for the business over the next 12 months to facilitate an orderly transition.

A global search firm has been engaged to find a successor to lead Main Event through its next phase of development, Ardent said in a statement to the ASX on Tuesday.

Morningstar analyst Brian Han said problems associated with the expansion of Main Event--which operates bowling, gaming and dining centres in the US--was one of the reasons for the emergence of shareholder unrest at the company.

Ardent earlier in September staved off a planned shareholder vote by inviting two rebel shareholders onto its board.

"Recent growing pains in the US Main Event division and lingering impact from the October 2016 Dreamworld tragedy are hampering earnings and have led to the emergence of a substantial activist shareholder on the register," Mr Han wrote in a note.

"We see this as a positive in awakening the board and management, with initiatives to improve performance already under way."

A better-than-expected finish to the financial year by Main Event helped Ardent lift earnings in a year that featured problems at its local theme park unit following the deaths of four people on a ride at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.

The fallout from the tragedy included the departure of Deborah Thomas as group chief executive.

Mr Keegan led Main Event to a 30 per cent rise in full-year revenue, and a 5.6 per cent rise in earnings.

He had been involved with Main Event since 2006, overseeing its expansion from six bowling centres in Texas to 38 centres across the US, Ardent managing director Simon Kelly said.

Mr Keegan will step down from his position on November 24.

"The company has a strong leadership team in place and I have every confidence in their ability to ensure the company's continued success," Mr Keegan said.

Ardent committed future cashflow from Main Event towards reinvestment in growth.

At 1030 AEST, shares in Ardent were 4.5 cents, or 2.59 per cent, higher at $1.78.


AAP logo image

© [2017] Australian Associated Press Pty Limited (AAP) or its Licensors. This is the Morningstar service with content provided by AAP where indicated. AAP reserves all rights, including copyright, in services provided by it. The information in the service is for personal use only, does not constitute financial product advice (whether general or personal) and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, without the prior written permission of AAP. You should seek advice from a professional financial adviser before making decision to acquire or dispose of a financial product.

This service is published for general information purposes only without assuming a duty of care. AAP is not in the business of providing financial product advice (whether personal or general advice), and gives no warranty, guarantee or other representation about the accuracy of the information or images contained in this service. AAP is not liable for errors, omissions in, delays or interruptions to or cessation of the services through negligence or otherwise. The globe symbol and "AAP" are registered trademarks.

This report appeared on www.morningstar.com.au 2018 Morningstar Australasia Pty Limited

© 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither Morningstar, its affiliates, nor the content providers guarantee the data or content contained herein to be accurate, complete or timely nor will they have any liability for its use or distribution. This information is to be used for personal, non-commercial purposes only. No reproduction is permitted without the prior written content of Morningstar. Any general advice or 'class service' have been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892), or its Authorised Representatives, and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information at www.morningstar.com.au/s/fsg.pdf. Our publications, ratings and products should be viewed as an additional investment resource, not as your sole source of information. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product's future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a licensed financial adviser. Some material is copyright and published under licence from ASX Operations Pty Ltd ACN 004 523 782 ("ASXO"). The article is current as at date of publication.