Paul Oneile, CEO of Australian slot manufacturer Aristocrat Technologies, announced that he is leaving the company at the end of December to “pursue private interests.”
Analysts quickly speculated that Aristocrat’s poor market performance this year was the reason that Oneile was leaving, perhaps exiting before he could be removed by the company’s board of directors.
In an interview with the Sydney Herald, Oneile denied he is leaving because the business is in decline, saying the current economic slump “just happened to coincide with the end of my contract. There is nothing untoward in any of this. If you’re asking if the two are linked, the answer is definitely no.”
Aristocrat Chairman David Simpson reiterated that in a separate interview with the newspaper. Asked whether Oneile was “abandoning a sinking ship,” Simpson said, “He is not jumping and it is not sinking. Let’s get it right, this is a profitable company producing a good cash flow. It is not sinking and he is not jumping from a sinking ship.”
Oneile has attributed Aristocrat’s poor performance to the slumping economy in the U.S., but analysts are pointing to a less-than-stellar rollout for the company’s new video slot series, “Gen7,” and the “Viridian” cabinet.
The price of Aristocrat’s shares plummeted more than 20 percent after the news of Oneile’s departure.
On a more positive note for the company, Aristocrat announced the forming of a Systems Research & Development Centre in South Africa during the next few months, to support African and European markets.
“This is a very exciting time for us,” said Systems Director Devon Dalbock. “While we
have been working closely with Sydney R&D in the past, the market requirements for this region are somewhat different than that of Asia Pacific. I believe that local R&D will certainly make us more agile in responding to market requirements, and ultimately this must translate to a competitive advantage.”