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Ader disputes statement from IGT in proxy fight

Former Wall Street analyst Jason Ader, who is heading a proxy fight with International Game Technology, disputed a brief statement released by the slot machine manufacturer Thursday afternoon.

In a one-paragraph statement, IGT said Ader informed the company he had withdrawn his intent to nominate himself for a seat on the board of directors, but was still planning to nominate a slate of three candidates, including former IGT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles Mathewson.

A few hours later, 5WPR, a public relations firm that represents New York-based Ader Investment Management, released the following terse statement:

“A press release by IGT tonight contains inaccurate information concerning Jason Ader and the Ader Group’s proxy fight. This statement will be addressed shortly in detail in conjunction with the filing of the Ader Group’s preliminary proxy.”

A spokesman for Ader declined additional comment.

IGT Vice President of Communications Susan Cartwright said, “We stand by the accuracy of our statement and our press release.”

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday, IGT revealed the proxy challenge through which Ader’s group seeks election to the board. Ader and Mathewson control 3 percent of IGT, or roughly 8.05 million shares and are seeking additional proxies for the company’s 2013 annual shareholder meeting.

Ader is assisting Mathewson in his fight to regain a seat on the IGT board.

Mathewson, 83, was IGT’s chairman from 1986 until retirement in 2003. He served as “chairman emeritus” until his ties with the company were severed in 2010. He is credited with spearheading the slot machine maker’s rise to the top of the casino industry in the 1990s.

Ader, 44, has been on the board of directors for Las Vegas Sands Corp., since 2009. He was senior managing director at Bear Stearns from 1995 to 2003, where he followed the gaming industry.

The proxy fight centers on the direction of IGT, the gaming industry’s largest slot machine manufacturer, which has corporate offices in Las Vegas and Reno.

Patti Hart, who took over as IGT’s CEO in April 2009, has been criticized for several large acquisitions by the company. Last year, IGT spent $500 million to buy social gaming giant DoubleDown Casino. In 2011, IGT spent $115 million to acquire Swedish online gaming operator Entraction.

Shares of IGT closed at $14.97 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, up 23 cents or 1.56 percent.

IGT told investors Monday it was nominating the company’s eight current board members, including Hart and Chairman Phil Satre. A date and location have not been set for the company’s 2013 annual meeting.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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