Ardent CEO Deborah Thomas steps down, CFO quits too

Ardent CEO Deborah Thomas steps down, CFO quits too
Ardent CEO Deborah Thomas steps down, CFO quits too

Theme park operator Ardent Leisure’s chief executive Deborah Thomas has stepped down to make way for former COO of Nine Entertainment, Simon Kelly, the company said in an ASX announcement.

But she is staying with the group.

The transition was initiated by Thomas herself, after the completion of  a review of the group’s global growth strategy, following the divestment of the non‐core health club and  marina assets, Ardent said.

The news comes just a month after corporate raiders Gary Weiss and David Baffsky bought a 5.7 percent stake in the troubled theme park and arcade operator, The Australian Financial Review noted.

Kelly will assume his new role from July 1, Ardent said on Wednesday, while Thomas will take on the role of chief customer officer for the group and chief operating officer for its Australasian business.

Thomas was the CEO when the Dreamworld tragedy occurred at the theme park in October 2016, in which four people were killed after a ride malfunctioned. She was the CEO for tow years.

It also reported a weaker-than-expected performance at its US Main Event Entertainment business in February.

In another high-profile departure, chief financial officer Richard Johnson resigned to return to the UK and be with his family, Ardent said.

Announcing the CEO change, Ardent Leisure Group chairman George Venardos said, “We are pleased to announce this significant boost to our management team."

"Simon, who will transition to the role over the next few months with the support of Deborah, brings to the Group a wealth of experience in the management of multinational operations, financial control and the  entertainment sector.”

Ariadne, the vehicle of Weiss and Baffsky, bought into the company that shed more than one-fifth of its value on the day of its February interim results announcement.

Ceo Ardent Leisure


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