As everyone knows, in early 2018, Novomatic AG and Len Ainsworth closed the transaction resulting in the transfer and ownership of Mr. Ainsworth’s shares, representing 52% of the publicly available shares, to Novomatic AG. As a result of the transaction, Novomatic AG became a majority shareholder of Ainsworth and also gained a seat on Ainsworth’s Board of Directors. Ainsworth Game Technology will continue to run its global business as a stand-alone, public company. The companies enjoy an arm’s length, synergistic relationship in compliance with Australian Stock Exchange stipulations and limitations with regard to any potential additional share ownership and investment in the future. Additionally, as parts of the transaction arrangement, there will be additional collaboration, including an ongoing effort by both companies to identify cost side savings as they relate to common suppliers, Novomatic AG acting as the European distributor for Ainsworth product and the companies’ share of content and operating synergies between Greentube and Ainsworth Online businesses, among others. This arrangement benefits both companies.
You’ve just announced your plans for retirement and are stepping down in mid-2019. What does the future hold for Ainsworth’s CEO position?
Yes, I have announced that I am stepping down as CEO. But I am not retiring and will be with Ainsworth in a yet to be defined role and I will continue to serve on the Board. I’ve been in the CEO chair for 11 years and have seen tremendous growth and change to the company. We’ve brought Ainsworth to the Americas region in a meaningful way, opened a state-of-the-art Americas operational headquarters, expanded our Latin American businesses and continued to mature our product offerings and company and now is the right time. In fact, while this tends to be rare in the gaming industry, Ainsworth is actually engaging in proper succession planning. This announcement reflects our commitment to visibility for our shareholders and our reporting requirements as a public company. It’s also important to note that our Americas leadership team remains intact and focused on continued growth in the region to match our commitment to deliver shareholder value as a global gaming company. Most importantly, during the search for our new CEO, there will be no impact on the day-to-day operations of the company. This is the primary reason for this measured approach as we maintain consistency and stability as we look to fill my position.
Recently, Ainsworth completed the single largest installation of its historical horse racing solution in a partnership with Churchill Downs. What is your vision for the future of the historical horse racing segment?
Our partnership with Churchill Downs was to develop and deliver historical horse racing terminals and system for its entry into the historical horse racing market in Kentucky. Our initial shipment of 900 terminals was delivered to Churchill Downs’ brand-new Derby City Gaming facility in Louisville. This was a seminal project for our company, as we created this product in close collaboration with Churchill Downs and gave us a great chance to flex our development muscle. The project clearly demonstrates Ainsworth’s unique capability of being large enough to deliver on a project like Derby City, but nimble enough to react to our partners’ bespoke product needs. This is also a huge opportunity to leverage opportunities in the emerging historical horse racing market as jurisdictions potentially pursue these types of implementations.
What new markets do you see providing additional growth for Ainsworth?
Historical horse racing can certainly be one of those areas. We also believe that our Class II offerings can continue to be a significant contributor for the company in the future. In the past year, we have entered several new Class II markets for the first time and are excited about growing that recurring revenue footprint. Late last year, we also entered the Washington State ESTS market where we are focused on new products and staff. We’re pursuing many opportunities in the Canadian market, as well. And without a doubt, we are always on the lookout for possible acquisitions and niche markets where we can use our strong balance sheet and financial stability to increase the bottom line.