WAR OF WORDS BETWEEN ARDENT AND ARIADNE HEATS UP AHEAD OF EGM
Written on the 17 July 2017 by Ben Hall
THE BOARD of Ardent Leisure has been "hopeless" and has no turnaround plan, according to property tycoon Kevin Seymour as his company Ariadne and the Dreamworld operator continue to trade barbs.
Seymour (pictured) and corporate raider Gary Weiss, through Ariadne and independently, hold more than eight per cent of Ardent and say they're working on a plan to turn Ardent around as they also push for four seats on its board.
Revenue and visitations at Dreamworld has plummeted since the deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride in October 2016. In February, Ardent Leisure posted a half year loss of $49 million, slashing the value of Dreamworld by $90 million.
Over the past few months Seymour and Weiss have been pushing for major changes and they've called for the removal of Ardent's directors and Ariadne has called an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to force the issue on September 4.
"They've been hopeless. Until we came on the register, they were doing nothing," Seymour told the Australian Financial Review on the weekend.
Seymour's comments follow an earlier ASX statement which revealed Ariadne had launched a website called www.fixardent.com.au and called on Ardent shareholders to allow it to have four board members to "fix Ardent's poor performance".
"The price of Ardent securities has more than halved over the last three years, from a high of $3.49 in October 2014 to as low as $1.52 a few months ago, equating to a fall in equity value of more than $900 million," says the statement co-signed by Seymour and Weiss.
"We do not believe that a board which has presided over such a significant loss of value over the last few years can miraculously turn themselves into wealth creators and now belatedly deliver improved returns to security holders," Seymour and Weiss say.
Seymour and Weiss have pointed to Ardent's "underperformance" before the Dreamworld fatalities.
The board of Ardent responded by saying Ariadne's argument is misleading and selective.
"Ariadne's emergence on the Ardent register is opportunistic and the statement that Ardent's price performance has 'more than halved over the last three years' ignores the strong financial, operational and security price performance prior to the Dreamworld incident," says Ardent chairman George Venardos.
Venardos says Ariadne has failed to disclose its broader intentions and accused it of waging a "media campaign", and urged shareholders not to vote at the EGM in September.
Business News Australia
Author: Ben Hall