IGT sets date for meeting where proxy fight will be waged

24 January 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Slot machine maker IGT - International Game Technology said Wednesday it would hold the company's annual shareholder meeting March 5 in Las Vegas while continuing to encourage shareholders to reject a looming proxy fight.

IGT filed its definitive proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, telling shareholders they should re-elect the company's eight-person board of directors.

Former IGT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles Mathewson and former analyst-turned-investor Jason Ader head a group that filed a competing proxy statement with the SEC to win three seats on the company's board of directors.

In the filing, the group said it wants to change some of the directions taken by the Las Vegas-based slot machine manufacturer.

The SEC is expected to rule before the end of the month on whether the proxy challenge can move forward.

In a letter to shareholders, IGT CEO Patti Hart and Chairman Phil Satre outlined the company's successes and said shareholders should reject the proxy fight because it would return the slot maker to an "outmoded" business model that would "return the company's strategic focus to where it was 10 years ago."

IGT said it would have the annual shareholders meeting at 7:30 a.m. March 5 at Canyon Gate Country Club.

On Tuesday, IGT reported first quarter results, showing a 41 percent increase in earnings per share and a 19 percent increase in revenues. The company said its much-debated purchase of social gaming giant DoubleDown Casino was beginning to pay off. Social gaming revenues increased 15 percent over fourth quarter results.

In reports to investors after the earnings release, analysts did not discuss the looming proxy fight. Several analysts said their opinion of DoubleDown was changing. IGT could end up paying as much as $500 million for the product's acquisition, which took place a year ago.

"In contrast to a number of our colleagues on the Street, we continue to grow more comfortable with the DoubleDown brand," Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski said. "While we recognize the entity remains dilutive to earnings, we do not believe recent revenue growth trends nor the favorable margin structure should be overlooked."

Shares of IGT lost 36 cents, or 2.37 percent, on Wednesday to close at $14.86 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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