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Analysts Unsure About New Park Place CEO

26 November 2002

ATLANTIC CITY – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "Wally Barr, the matter-of-fact dean of Atlantic City casino executives, now is in charge of the world's largest gaming company, thrust suddenly from his No. 2 role into the analytical spotlight by Tuesday's forced departure of Thomas Gallagher.

"Analysts praise Barr as casino operator, but question whether he has the vision or is the right man to turn around Park Place Entertainment Corp., a $4.7 billion aircraft carrier of a company.

"…For starters, investors want to know whether Park Place strives to be more like MGM Mirage - with premier casinos in a few locations - or more like Harrah's Entertainment - with ordinary cash cows spread across the land.

"`We're a 'tweener,' Barr said.

"…Still, he knows that Park Place can and must do better. The cash-flow margin at the company's Eastern Region (chiefly Atlantic City) casinos through nine months was 31 percent compared to 22 percent in Nevada.

"…Barr has built his reputation in Atlantic City over 23 years. As Park Place grew from two casinos to four, Barr began combining functions - from the kitchens to the legal departments.

"…Beyond better operations, analysts are not sure what to expect from Barr.

"`Among our concerns with this story has been the company's lack of a clear, long-term strategy,' CIBC World Markets analyst William Schmitt said in a research note.

"…Investors and analysts will be watching closely for signs of change. They've grown impatient waiting for Park Place to show the kind of growth exhibited by its peers: MGM Mirage, Harrah's and Mandalay Resort Group.

"…Barr said Park Place will continue to invest where it can get good returns, whether in its own casinos or new locations. There are no plans to sell casinos, he said…"

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