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Take-Two Shareholders Plot 'Coup'

According to multiple media reports, a number of investors are attempting to oust current Take-Two CEO Paul Eibeler, causing the company’s shares to rise by 19 percent. Analysts have commented that the move is likely to be both successful and beneficial.
According to multiple media reports, including the New York Post and Reuters, a number of investors are attempting to oust current CEO Paul Eibeler, causing the company’s shares to rise by 19 percent. Although Grand Theft Auto, published by subsidiary Rockstar Games, has proven to be one of the most successful franchises of the previous generation Take-Two has been rocked by a string of financial issues including the recent shares stock scandal which forced out previous CEO Ryan Brant. The company has also been adversely affected by the infamous “Hot Coffee” incident which caused Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to be re-called and re-rated in the U.S. Take-Two’s recently restated financial results for fiscal 2006 saw revenue fall and the company record a net loss of $184.9 million. The New York Post maintains that the investor group began to discuss plans for the ousting in early February, led by famed corporate raider Carl Icahn - who recently sold his entire stake in the company. The investors, who own 46 percent of the company, are seeking control of the board of directors with Strauss Zelnick, former CEO of BMG Entertainment, being suggested as non-executive chairman. Zelnick would then be delegated the power to replace Eibeler and possibly also CFO Karl Winters. Other directors nominated by the shareholders for Take-Two's board include, Benjamin Feder, Jon J. Moses, Michael Dornemann and Michael James Sheresky. Current independent directors Grover Brown and John Levy are also being considered for a place on the board. The investors have also vote to reduce the overall size of the board of directors from nine to six. The issue is likely to come to ahead at the company’s annual stockholders meeting on March 23rd, although most analysts appear to think that the investors will be successful and that the move will be beneficial to Take-Two. "Replacing the board is a good thing. I think it's very healthy to flush everybody," said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, as quoted by Reuters. "They completely abdicated any responsibility for the oversight of the options granting policy. A more responsible board would have committed hari-kari”. However, Reuters also quotes Arvind Bhatia, director of research at Sterne, Agee & Leach, as saying, "Outside management can play a role, but I just think it will take time. The company's problems can't be corrected overnight." Both Pachter and Bhatia have rated Take-Two’s stock as “sell”, with Bhatia also referring to the publisher as a “one product company”.

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