Bill Boyd passes CEO baton

Jul 31, 2007 8:06 AM

After more than 30 years, a "Boyd" will no longer head Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD).

Bill Boyd, who founded the company with his father, legendary casino operator Sam Boyd in 1974, announced last week that he will turn over the company’s reins to Keith Smith, who for the past several years has functioned as the company chief operating officer.

Analysts were neither surprised by the move nor concerned that a change in the CEO’s chair will affect the operation of the company either in its outlook or daily management.

For Bill Boyd, 75, who learned the gaming business from his father while working toward a law degree, it will mean less involvement in company minutiae, although he said he will be actively involved as the new "executive chairman." He will remain a member of the company’s management committee and plans to focus on employee and customer relations.

Smith, 47, joined the company 17 years ago and became an officer in 2001.

"Keith understands and supports the culture that has come to define and differentiate our company over the last 30 years," Boyd said in announcing the move.

"We are at the beginning of a transformational new chapter in our company’s history, making this an ideal time for a new person to assume the chief executive role," he added.

Succeeding Smith in the COO position will be Paul Chakmak, 42, who will relinquish his post as chief financial officer. The company said he will continue with those duties while it searches for a replacement.