By Yi-Wyn Yen
Electronic Arts announced Monday that chief financial officer Warren Jenson is resigning as the video game publisher presses a hostile bid to buy rival Take-Two.
Jenson, who has been the CFO since June 2002, will leave the company in September. EA did not specify a reason for Jenson’s departure and said it will name his replacement “shortly.”
Analysts say the shakeup is not surprising. Chief executive John Riccitiello has made a number of key management moves since he joined the video gaming powerhouse last April. Riccitiello’s latest came last week when he hired a new right-hand man in president and chief operating officer John Pleasant.
“Riccitiello was brought in because the stock hadn’t moved in three years,” said Michael Pachter, a gaming analyst with Wedbush Morgan. “Now it’s been four years. To help him, he’s hiring people he’s comfortable with. If you hire a new coach and the team’s not winning, the coach is going to bring in new players.”
The timing of Jenson’s resignation indicates that the company’s plans for a new CFO are unrelated to its $1.9 billion bid to acquire Take-Two. A source who has spoken to a high-level EA executive says that the company has already chosen a successor to Jenson.
In a note to clients, UBS analyst Ben Schachter wrote, “We envision little impact to the company’s strategy on the deal going forward. We think CEO John Riccitiello is the driving force behind this deal, though the timing here is unnerving and will likely raise questions with investors.”
Take-Two (TTWO) management has rejected EA’s offer of $26 a share is too low. EA has taken its case directly to Take-Two’s shareholders, and is giving them until April 11, one day after the annual shareholder’s meeting, to aceept the offer. Take-Two’s board has urged shareholders to hold off until it reviews the offer and informs them of its decision by March 27.