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Here’s why Ardent Leisure Group has plummeted 14% today

Within moments of the ASX’s open this morning, shares of leisure and entertainment business, Ardent Leisure Group (ASX: AAD), traded as much as 19% lower before recovering to trade around 14% down in the first hour.

Following an announcement this morning that long-running CEO, Greg Shaw, would retire from his position, shares of Ardent – the owner of Dreamworld, Good life Health Clubs and more – went into a nosedive.

Although Mr Shaw will step down from the board immediately, he will continue as CEO until the end of the current financial year in July 2015. He has been in the top job since 2002.

Mr Shaw will be replaced by Deborah Thomas, former magazine editor and head of one of Australia’s best-selling magazines, The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Ardent Lesiure Chairman, Neil Balnaves AO said, “The Board of Directors would like to thank Greg for his exceptional leadership and commitment to the Group during his tenure and for establishing the building blocks for the Group’s future success.”

Commenting on her appointment, Ms Thomas said, “It is a great privilege to follow in Greg’s footsteps and be given stewardship of such an exciting group of businesses. Greg has built a great platform of assets and management team on which I will build, with a strong focus on marketing, customer service and product innovation across all of our facilities.”

Ms Thomas will be paid a fixed remuneration of $670,000 per year, with short and long-term incentives each worth up to 50% of her fixed pay.

Should you buy Ardent Leisure shares?

Ardent shares have been hit hard in recent times, falling nearly 30% in 2015 alone. Despite impressive growth rates from its Main Event business in the United States. However, in February Ardent announced a lacklustre set of half-year results.

Personally, I (like many analysts) was caught off-guard by the poor results and subsequent share price decline. As such I look forward to seeing what Ms Thomas brings to Ardent’s businesses, especially the leisure portfolio.

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Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any of the mentioned companies. Owen welcomes your feedback on Google plus (see below) or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

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