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Howard Stutz
 

Harrah's Entertainment Names Communications Executive

20 December 2004

A former chief of staff to Nevada's governor will lead the communications strategy for Harrah's Entertainment as the company proceeds with its impending $9.4 billion buyout of Caesars Entertainment.

Marybel Batjer, who left Gov. Kenny Guinn in 2003 to serve as cabinet secretary to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was named Harrah's vice president of public policy and communications Thursday. However, her primary role initially will be to oversee the company's communications strategies throughout the merger process, which is expected to be completed in 2005.

Once the merger closes, Batjer will develop a global communications strategy for the combined company.

"Marybel will be the key communications person in regards to the merger both internally and externally," said Jan Jones, senior vice president of communication and government relations at Harrah's.

The complexity of the merger, which involves integrating two vastly different gaming operations into what is expected to be the industry's largest casino operator, necessitated the hiring of a person who was once considered one of the highest-ranking officials in both Nevada and California.

"From a merger standpoint, our messages are going to have to be carefully watched because we have to be concerned about both our employees and our customers," Batjer said. "This is something we have to manage on a global perspective."

In a statement, Harrah's Chief Integration Officer John Boushy said: "The acquisition of Caesars is the largest and most transformational merger in our company's and our industry's history. Communicating the benefits brought about by this transaction to many diverse constituents effectively and consistently will be crucial to our success."

Batjer most recently was the cabinet secretary for Schwarzenegger, serving as chief policy adviser while directing the activities of the governor's 13 cabinet officials.

Before joining the Schwarzenegger administration in late 2003, Batjer served three years as Guinn's chief of staff. She had previous government experience in California and Washington, D.C.

Since the announcement of the merger agreement, both Harrah's and Caesars have been divesting themselves of some of the combined 56 casinos they manage.

Before Harrah's and Caesars can complete their deal, they will need to win approval from federal antitrust officials and regulators in states in which the two companies operate.

Harrah's Entertainment Names Communications Executive is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.