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Aristocrat shares slide on CEO resignation

AAP logoAAP 8/11/2016 Lilly Vitorovich and Petrina Berry

Shares in poker machine maker Aristocrat Leisure have tumbled following news its chief executive Jamie Odell is stepping down next year.

Mr Odell, who has been at the helm since 2009, plans to leave the business on February 28, 2017 and will be replaced by the group's product boss Trevor Croker.

At 1451 AEDT, Aristrocrat's share price was down $1.28 or 8.4 per cent, to $13.91, having fallen as low as $13.33 earlier in the session.

Aristocrat chairman Dr Ian Blackburne said Mr Odell has chosen to leave and will ensure a seamless transition.

He said during Mr Odell's tenure as CEO, the company's market capitalisation grew from around $1.7 billion to a recent all-time high of around $10.6 billion.

"The board respects Jamie's decision to depart at the end of February 2017 after a remarkably successful eight-year tenure that has transformed the business," Dr Blackburne said in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday.

Mr Odell said he believed it was an appropriate time to step down given the business was in excellent shape.

"We have established sustained momentum in our core business, and made significant progress in driving recurring revenues, exiting distracting businesses, executing accretive merger and acquisitions and overhauling our organisational culture and structures," he said.

"Trevor Croker is an outstanding leader who is widely respected both within Aristocrat and among our stakeholders, and will bring fresh perspectives to the role to drive the business forward."

Mr Croker, who will assume the CEO role on March 1, has played a key part in Aristocrat's successful turnaround and outstanding growth, having worked closely with Mr Odell in the past seven years, Dr Blackburn said.

Before Aristocrat, Mr Croker held roles including sales director at Fosters Australia for three years and marketing director Asia Pacific at Beringer Blass Wine Estates.

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