Caesars Entertainment has appointed gaming veteran Anthony Rodio as its new chief executive and said it set up a committee to evaluate takeover interest it has received amid continued pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn to sell itself.
Mr Rodio was previously the head of Tropicana Entertainment, a casino operator owned by Mr Icahn that was sold last year for $1.85bn.
The 60-year old will be replacing Mark Frissora, who announced last November he would step down in February but later said he would stay on until a new CEO is found.
The appointment comes as Caesars also said on Tuesday it was setting up a board committee to oversee the company’s efforts to create more shareholder value.
“The decision to form this Committee follows inquiries from industry participants concerning possible transactions with Caesars,” it said.
Mr Icahn — who is the largest shareholder with a 15 cent stake, according to Bloomberg data, and has three representatives on the board — has been agitating for the Las Vegas-based casino group to merge with or be acquired by another gaming operator.
The company behind Caesars Palace and the Harrah’s chain rejected an unsolicited cash-and-stock merger proposal from Golden Nugget Casinos last year, which would have valued the company at $13 a share.
Shares in Caesars closed at $9.38 on Monday, giving it a market value of about $6.3bn. This compares to financial obligations and long term debt that stood at over $18.8bn at the end of 2018.
“Our industry is going through a time of transition and opportunity and I look forward to leading Caesars’ exceptional team through the Company’s next phase of growth, innovation and value creation,” said Mr Rodio in a statement on Monday.
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