ALL 2.54% $35.71 aristocrat leisure limited

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    Aristocrat to report on US slump
    Mar 24
    Ben Power

    Poker machine company Aristocrat Leisure will hold a special board meeting later this week to consider a report on the company's United States operation by managing director Des Randall.

    Mr Randall is believed to have returned to Australia last week, and is working on the details of a plan to take the North American operations into the future.

    The board meeting is most likely to be held on Thursday or Friday, but sources said an exact date had not yet been set.

    Mr Randall pre-empted the report by moving quickly earlier this month to remove key US executives, including president Mark Newburg, who was replaced by European head Gavin Isaacs.

    Aristocrat's shares halved in February, after it said it would fall short of its $109 million profit guidance. It blamed a failed South American contract for the shortfall, but then admitted its US operations had also fallen short of expectations, with serious problems including margin deterioration.

    The release prompted an inquiry from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the company launched a full investigation into the US operation.

    Mr Randall said he was unaware of the full extent of the problems in the US, with its executives telling him they were confident of hitting full-year numbers.

    He conceded there had been integration problems with Las Vegas-based Casino Data Systems and that Aristocrat's US expansion strategy was flawed, targeting Las Vegas at the expense of local markets.

    Meanwhile, Jupiters is proceeding with the sale of its sports-betting operation Centrebet, following a takeover by Tabcorp. Tabcorp did not want Centrebet as part of its $1.7 billion purchase.

    Sources confirm wide-ranging interest from local and international operators, including TAB, Publishing & Broadcasting Limited and International All Sports. Valuations vary from as low as $80 million to as high as $185 million.

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