ARDENT BOARD SPILL AVOIDED AS IT 'INVITES' ACTIVIST INVESTORS TO THE TABLE
4 September 2017, Written by Ben Hall
THE BATTLE for control of Ardent Leisure's (ASX: AAD) board has taken a dramatic twist with corporate raider Dr Garry Weiss and US executive Brad Richmond invited to take a place at the table of the embattled company.
Two current Ardent board members will make way for Weiss and Richmond before the company's AGM in November as they aim to make their mark on the business which has struggled since the Thunder Rapids ride tragedy at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast last October in which four people were killed.
The move staves off a planned shareholder vote which was to be held at an EGM on Monday afternoon and follows a three-month campaign led by Weiss to install "new and highly experienced" directors on the Ardent board.
Weiss and property tycoon Kevin Seymour headed an activist investor group which represented Ariadne, Ardent's largest shareholder with 10.9 per cent.
Ardent Chairman George Venardos has resisted the push for Ariadne to take the two board positions in an often acrimonious stoush in which Seymour reportedly labelled the Ardent board "hopeless" with no turnaround plan.
Venardos says he now welcomes the two new directors to Ardent's board.
"We are confident that Dr Weiss and Mr Richmond can bring assistance and additional insight to the board," Venardos says.
"We are pleased that Ardent can now focus on executing its stated strategy to drive performance."
Ardent Leisure posted a $62.6 million loss for the 2017 financial year after steep falls in visitor numbers following the Dreamworld tragedy and its subsequent 45-day shutdown.
Weiss will be joined by Richmond, a US restaurant expert, as they attempt to restore confidence in the Dreamworld asset and reinvigorate Ardent's struggling US business, Main Event, ahead of a possible sale or float of it within the next three years.
Ardent's US operations are still being affected in the short-term by Hurricane Harvey which has left five Main Event centres closed in Houston.
Business News Australia
Author: Ben Hall