ARDENT LEISURE ANNOUNCES ITS MAIN EVENT CEO IN THE US WILL STEP DOWN

ARDENT LEISURE ANNOUNCES ITS MAIN EVENT CEO IN THE US WILL STEP DOWN

Ardent Leisure's (ASX: AAD) US-based Main Event business has announced the retirement of its CEO Charlie Keegan to take effect in November.

The theme park operator has not disclosed a reason or statement for Keegan's resignation, but says he will consult for the business over the next 12 months to facilitate an orderly transition.

Charlie Keegan has been involved with Main Event since 2006 and Ardent managing director says he is responsible for the company's expansion in the US.

"During that time Charlie has transformed Main Event Entertainment from a six-centre bowling concept in Texas to a leading entertainment company with 38 centres operating across the US," Kelly says.

Ardent has not yet named a successor and has launched a global search for its new US head.

According to Morningstar analyst, Brian Han, the company has been the subject of shareholder unrest due to the expansion of Main Event which operates bowling, gaming and dining centres in the US.

"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," Han says.

Earlier this month, Ardent Leisure invited activist investors Garry Weiss and Brad Richmond to its board, effectively staving off a shareholder vote on the board's membership at an EGM.

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

Keegan says he has confidence the business will still continue to be successful after stepping down from the position.

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

A better- than-expected finish to the financial year by Main Event helped Ardent Leisure lift earnings in a year that was severely impacted by tragic deaths four people on a ride at the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast.

Main Event grew full-year revenue of 30 per cent to $282.6 million and also produced a 5.6 per cent rise in earnings.

The company has committed future cash flows from Main Event towards reinvestment in growth.

At 12:30pm (AEST) Ardent shares were up by 2.7 per cent at $1.78.

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