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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Bally Technologies taps new CEO

15 November 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Bally Technologies, Inc. announced Wednesday that Ramesh Srinivasan will become chief executive officer of the Las Vegas-based slot machine manufacturer.

Srinivasan, 52, who will also join the company's board, replaces Richard Haddrill, who will become Bally's chairman.

The transition takes effect Dec. 31.

Srinivasan joined Bally in 2005 as executive vice president of the company's systems division. He was promoted to president and chief operating officer in March 2011.

Haddrill has been CEO for eight years. He replaces current chairman Kevin Verner, who will become Bally's lead independent board member.

"Ramesh and I have been great business partners over the past 13 years across two companies and these changes reflect the continued natural evolution of our roles and responsibilities," Haddrill said in a statement. "We have built a deep group of leaders at Bally and Ramesh has proven his ability to lead the team."

On a short conference call with analysts and investors Wednesday afternoon, Haddrill said the board discussed a transition plan for the company during the past 18 months. Once the plan was reached, the company decided to make the announcement.

Haddrill said external issues did not drive the changes. He plans to remain involved in Bally, maintaining an office, and exploring longer-term strategic plans for the company.

"Although we did not believe Mr. Haddrill would be around for the long haul given prior indications, we found the suddenness of this change, surprising," Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli told investors. "As such, we anticipate the announcement will serve as a headwind for shares in the near term as investors scramble to understand the rational and timing at this stage."

The changes were announced after the stock markets closed. Shares of Bally, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $44.36, down 83 cents or 1.84 percent. They rose afterhours.

Bally's systems division was considered one of the strongest in the gaming industry. Under Srinivasan, the company capitalized on the convergence of the slot machines and systems businesses, as well as emerging mobile and iGaming platforms.

"We continue to believe that Bally's software capabilities and systems offerings will continue to gain market share and provide strong support to earnings over the next few years," Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon told investors.

Analysts endorsed the change because of Srinivasan's background with the company.