Trump Entertainment CEO departs

NEW YORK Mon Jun 18, 2007 12:26pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Casino operator Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. TRMP.O, which is reviewing proposals to be acquired, said on Monday that Chief Executive James Perry will leave, casting doubt on a deal.

Donald Trump's casino company said Perry is leaving, effective July 1, because of his wish to return to his family in California.

But the Star-Ledger reported that Perry was fired amid controversy about narrowing the list of potential bidders. The New Jersey paper said Perry was the lone dissenter in a board vote to enter negotiations with a group led by former casino executive Dennis Gomes.

Trump Entertainment wasn't immediately available for comment.

The company, which operates three casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, named Chief Operating Officer Mark Juliano as the interim CEO.

Shares fell 7 percent, or $1.12, to $14.79 in mid-day trading on the Nasdaq, as investors worried the sudden change in leadership would disrupt the sales process.

"People are questioning whether there's going to be a deal or not," said Joseph Fath, a portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price Associates.

Perry assumed the CEO job at Trump Entertainment in July 2005 after serving as president and CEO of Argosy Gaming.

The casino operator in May said it had received preliminary and conditional interest from prospective buyers. The interest comes after the company in March said it hired Merrill Lynch to help it evaluate its strategic options.

Investment fund Dune Capital Management is the only group competing with Gomes for Trump Entertainment, the Star-Ledger newspaper reported.

Trump Entertainment has a market value of about $495 million.

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