New Aristocrat prez targets growth for U.S. arm

Jul 17, 2001 6:49 AM

   A merger within a merger has brought Mark Newburg to the forefront of Aristocrat Technology.

   “Right now we are a minor player in the market,” said the American-born Newburg, who was appointed president last week as a result of Aristocrat and Casino Data Systems combining forces.

   “Our objective is profitable growth,” said Newburg, who joined the Australian-based video games corporation from National Cash Register, where he was vice president of the financial solutions division for the Asia, Pacific and Japan regions.

   Aristocrat finalized a merger last January with CDS, based in Las Vegas. The move signaled the start of the company’s new-look American business.

   “Things are hectic now with the move into the new office,” Newburg said in his first interview since the merger. “Right now, our short term plan is to keep delivering the revenue and profitability to Sydney.”

   Aristocrat holds 100 licenses worldwide, including 17 in the U.S. The company’s plan is to become a greater player in the Las Vegas market, without sacrificing its worldwide obligations.

   “We are the world leader in developing video gaming software,” said Carolan Pepin, the corporation’s marketing manager. “Merging with CDS allows us to tap into their marketing expertise.”

   The “Penguins Pays” game is the only Aristocrat product approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and available in state casinos. The merger is seen as a way to speed up the approval ­­process.

   “We would be able to get our games approved, but the process would take longer,” Pepin said. “The big thing was getting our first game approved. A good way to describe the process was like taking the service road to the Control Board. Now, with the merger, we can take the interstate.”

   Aristocrat boasts the largest, most diverse library of any gaming manufacturer, with more than 300 registered patents, designs and trademarks worldwide.

   “The company, correctly in my view, is in a globalization track,” Newburg said. “We want to be sure to provide entertainment and games globally. This requires that you think globally and act locally. You have to make things that would appeal to the local environment.”

   Newburg, who received his Masters degree at the University of Dayton, has not lived in the U.S. for 12 years. However, he said the move to Las Vegas would not be difficult.

   “There is so much to do and so little time to get it done,” he said. “My wife and I really like Las Vegas. My main focus is getting the 720 employees here in the two companies integrated. We have two different structures, two different cultures.”

   Aristocrat has 30 video games in casinos worldwide, but only one in Nevada. The merger with CDS has speeded up the timetable.

   “We are expecting more approvals later this month,” said Greg France, vice president of marketing. “The hope is that four or five more games every month for the next few months can receive approval by the Gaming Control Board. Penguin has been a very good success, but we’re trying to build a library.”

   Aristocrat has enjoyed five consecutive years of record profits since becoming a publicly traded company (Aristocrat Leisure Limited aka ALL) on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1996. The firm’s most popular games worldwide include Penguin Pays, Queen of the Nile, Dolphin Treasure and Wild Cougar.

   “We are looking to grow the North American and South American markets,” France said. “In Oregon, we dominate 50 percent of the market. Nevada is a very mature market and our games appeal to that type. Not only do we think we will have success with locals in Las Vegas, but we can offer games that cater to the traveling population of the Strip.”

   The American Gaming Summit voted Aristocrat’s “Big Top Keno” game as this year’s Most Innovative Gaming Product. The corporation also has a global patent on 20-line video games.

   “We are the leaders in technology and now we have the systems and marketing means to start catching up in Las Vegas,” France said.

   Newburg believes Aristocrat will continue to be successful if it follows two specific ­­guidelines.

   “Getting the organization ready, and getting the product ready,” he said. “If we always do that, and I pick up a few Australian phrases, we are going meet our goals.”

   Newburg is married and has three children, all in college.  His wife is named Dawn and the collegians are Jason, Matthew and Jessica.