November 7, 2017 / 11:58 PM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Australia's Ardent Leisure says CEO resigns; reaffirms FY core earnings

(Adds background on company’s operations; reaffirms FY core earnings forecast)

Nov 8 (Reuters) - Struggling Australian theme park operator Ardent Leisure Group said on Wednesday its Chief Executive and Managing Director Simon Kelly had resigned after four months in the role.

Chief Financial Officer Geoff Richardson would step in on an interim basis while the board searched for a new CEO, the company said in a statement. It gave no reason for Kelly’s departure.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ardent Leisure has been under pressure since Oct 2016 after a malfunction in a ride resulted in four casualties at Dreamworld, Australia’s biggest theme park. In May it said it would consider its redevelopment.

Since September, Nicole Noye, the CEO of the bowling and entertainment business in Australia, and Charlie Keegan, CEO of Main Event Entertainment in the United States, have announced their resignations.

The company also reiterated that it was trading in line with its full-year 2018 core earnings expectations, but said depreciation charges would be about A$10 million ($7.64 million) higher than the year earlier.

The depreciation charges were due to the opening of three new entertainment centres.

Following Kelly’s resignation, non-executive director Brad Richmond will oversee U.S. Main Event bowling alleys until the board appoints a U.S.-based CEO.

Ardent Leisure said revenue from Main Event and Dreamworld remained challenging, while Bowling & Entertainment business core earnings were expected to rise about 20 percent.

The company’s shares fell 2.1 percent in early trade while the broader market was slightly lower.

$1 = 1.3082 Australian dollars Reporting by Nicole Pinto; Editing by Stephen Coates

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