New Ardent Boss In Sudden Departure
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Investors sold down Ardent shares yesterday after CEO Simon Kelly resigned unexpectedly and without explanation from either him or the company.
The shares lost 2.1% at one stage before settling to close at $1.835.
Mr Kelly departed after just six months in the role.
New chair, the veteran corporate raider Gary Weiss as the new chairman, did reveal any reason for Mr Kelly’s departure.
“The board of directors is disappointed with Simon’s resignation and would like to thank him for his contribution to the group and wish him well in the future," was all Mr Weiss said in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday.
Without giving a reason for his sudden departure, Mr Kelly said it had been “a pleasure to lead the group". "I remain very positive about the potential of the group's businesses," the departing executive said.
A spokesman for Ardent later suggested that Mr Kelly and Mr Weiss did not agree on the company’s further path, according to media reports.
During its search for a new chief executive, finance chief Geoff Richardson will act as interim CEO.
Ardent said in an update that it was trading “broadly in line with expectations” for its core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the 2017-18 financial year.
It said business at Dreamworld remains challenged after last year’s fatal incident, it said, “albeit within expectations, with the business trading above breakeven ahead of the peak trading season over the summer months”.
Earnings at the company’ bowling and entertainment business are tracking 20% higher from a year earlier, but revenues at some newly-opened centres under the company’s US Main Event business arm remain challenged.
None of that seems to be worth resigning over, so shareholders have been left in the dark and deserve better from a company that has disappointed now for more than a year.
Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.
At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.