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Aristocrat CEO: Looking to Future

Aristocrat CEO: Looking to Future

Jamie Odell, CEO of Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., had a simple message for investors late in February after reporting less-than-stellar 2009 results: The slot manufacturer’s turnaround is on track.

After Aristocrat posted a loss of $157.8 million for 2009-compared to a $101.2 million profit a year earlier-Odell said in an interview with Global Gaming Business that early indicators are good for what he calls the company’s “three-to-five-year turnaround strategy.”

“While 2009 was a challenging year, and despite positive early signs 2010 will likely be a difficult year, we expect full benefits of what we’re doing to come through in 2011 and beyond,” Odell said. “Our No. 1 plan is to increase participation games in the U.S., and the participation games we launched in the fourth quarter have grown our installed base significantly during the past few months.”

Nick Khin, president of Aristocrat Americas, said new slot games like “Beat the Bandits” and “Jeff Foxworthy’s Redneck Rumble” are leading the way in the U.S. market with strong initial placements, as well as the original version of “JAWS,” the participation game based on the blockbuster 1970s movie series. “We have 1,200 JAWS units out there now, and we just released the second base game, ‘Night Hunter,'” Khin said, “which we’re very excited about. ‘Hit the Heights,’ approved a month before G2E, is very promising as well.”

Odell said that while operators and investors obviously want to see the “proof in the pudding” with improved results, Aristocrat’s turnaround is well on its way. “We’ve made a lot of progress in North America,” Odell said. “We have a new platform team in Australia and a new CTO in Las Vegas (former Slovenske Loterie CEO Julius Patta), and a great and established team in the U.S. with Nick and Seamus (McGill, COO).We have a lot of work to do in Australia, and our long-term growth is challenging.

“But in our key North American market, we’ve made solid progress in key areas. We’re looking forward to the future.”

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