Ardent staves off board spill

Embattled theme parks operator Ardent Leisure has staved off a planned shareholder vote later on Monday by inviting two rebel shareholders onto its board.

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Ardent said both sides had agreed that the extraordinary general meeting scheduled for Monday would not proceed after the company invited Gary Weiss and Brad Richmond to join the board effective immediately.

Two current directors will now step down no later than the 2017 annual general meeting in November, the company said.

Mr Weiss, executive director of Ardent’s largest shareholder Ariadne Australia and fellow director Brad Richmond, have sought seats on the Ardent board as part of a plan to turn around what they see as strategic errors at the company.

Mr Weiss has led a campaign Since June to install “new and highly experienced” directors on the Ardent board.

In July, he and fellow investor Kevin Seymour, a Queensland property developer, wrote to Ardent shareholders saying the company had “lost its way” and urging support for new directors to guide the company’s increasingly US-focused business.

Ariadne holds a 10.9 per cent stake in Ardent.

Ardent Leisure posted a $62.6 million loss for the 2017 financial year after steep falls in visitor numbers following a fatal accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride at its Dreamworld park in Queensland in October, 2016, and the park’s subsequent 45-day shutdown.

Ardent Chairman George Venardos, who has previously resisted the push from the rebel shareholders for board representation, on Monday said the two new directors will bring assistance and additional insight to the board.

“We are pleased that Ardent can now focus on executing its stated strategy to drive performance,” he said in a statement.