LAS VEGAS, July 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc. ("CEOC" or "the Company") today announced additional steps intended to position CEOC for a stock listing and significant deleveraging including the appointment of John Payne as Chief Executive Officer, Mary Elizabeth Higgins as Chief Financial Officer and Tim Lambert as General Counsel of CEOC. The appointment of Payne, Higgins and Lambert follows the addition of two independent directors to the CEOC board in June. The appointments are subject to the receipt of regulatory approval. The appointment of an executive leadership team and the addition earlier this month of independent directors are key steps in CEOC's comprehensive plan to reduce leverage. These actions follow the completion of the previously announced $1.75 billion first lien debt offering and associated redemption of existing 2015 maturities as well as a paydown of $800 million of bank facilities maturing in 2016; the sale by Caesars Entertainment of 5% of CEOC's equity to institutional investors; the closing of the previously announced asset sales; and the amendment of CEOC's credit facility. "We are focused on deleveraging and creating value at CEOC and today's announcement supports those goals," said Gary Loveman, Chairman and CEO of Caesars Entertainment. "John possesses a deep understanding of our regional markets and has strongly contributed to the growth and development of the Caesars-branded network over the years. I have complete confidence in John's ability to create value at CEOC." Payne joined Caesars Entertainment nearly 19 years ago as a President's Associate. Most recently, he served as President, Central Markets & Partnership Development for Caesars Entertainment. Prior to this role, Payne was President of Enterprise Shared Services from July 2011 to May 2013. Previously, he was Central Division President. Payne has held general manager roles of several properties, including Harrah's New Orleans. "The regional properties within CEOC are an important part of the Caesars-branded properties' business model, which allows regional customers the ability to accumulate Total Rewards credit and redeem it across a vast network of affiliated properties, including destination markets such as Las Vegas and New Orleans," Payne said. "Despite difficult conditions in some regional markets, I believe there are exciting opportunities to enhance value and capitalize on a number of exciting developments across the industry. Higgins will report to Payne and be responsible for executive management and oversight of CEOC's financial operations.