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Regal CEO Mike Campbell steps down as Regal chief executive, remains chairman

Regal Entertainment Group, the nation's largest theater chain, said Wednesday that Amy Miles, the company's chief financial officer, has been named chief executive, replacing Mike Campbell, who remains executive chairman. 

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Miles, 42, a former executive with Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been Regal's CFO since March 2002. She will be replaced by David Ownby, who has been the company's senior vice president of finance.

The changes take effect June 30.

Regal, controlled by investor Phil Anschutz, said the moves were part of a succession plan under which Campbell, who founded Regal in 1989 and presided over a series of acquisitions, would continue as executive chairman of the board.

Anschutz's entertainment interests include sports and concert giant AEG, movie production company Walden Media as well stakes in the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings.

The announcement, made during the company's annual shareholder meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., came days after Regal announced that net income in the first quarter had dropped 22% to $21.3 million, largely due to charges for closing theaters and interest expense. Revenues for the period were up 6% to $655 million as theater operators have benefited from strong ticket sales this year.

Campbell, 55, said in an interview that he suggested the change to the board, citing corporate governance issues to separate the duties of chairman and CEO.

"I think it's just good succession planning and good for the company and something I've been thinking about for the last two years," he said.

While Miles will oversee the daily operations of the company, Campbell said he would remain active in various "strategic initiatives," including possible acquisitions of other theater companies and the conversion of Regal's theaters to digital technology. Regal operates 6,782 screens in 550 theaters in 39 states.

Campbell's exit as CEO marks the latest executive shift in the movie theater industry, which has struggled to increase attendance over the last decade despite an uptick recently in ticket sales. Earlier this year AMC Entertainment, the country's No. 2 operator of theaters, tapped former Starbucks executive Gerardo Lopez as chief executive, and Michael W. Patrick, the chief executive of No. 4 operator Carmike Cinemas, was ousted. 

The Regal moves, with Miles stepping up to chief executive and Campbell assuming chairmanship responsibilities, appears to have won the approval of Wall Street.

"We believe that investors are likely to be comfortable with the appointments,'' said Barton Crockett, analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.

Regal's shares were trading at $13.96, up 15 cents, in early afternoon activity.

-- Richard Verrier

 
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