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Infogrames CEO Resigns, Replaced By Former EA Exec

by Rainier on Jan. 31, 2008 @ 9:44 a.m. PST

Infogrames announces that during its meeting on Jan. 30, 2008, the Board accepted the resignation of its Chairman and CEO Patrick Leleu, who will be replaced by former EA executive David Gardner, effective immediately.

Mr. Gardner is one of the leading executives in the interactive entertainment software industry with a career that spans nearly 25 years at Electronic Arts, where he was a key contributor to the growth of the company globally. Mr. Gardner brings a wealth of experience and creative talent to Infogrames.

In making the appointment, the Board stated: “We are delighted to welcome M. Gardner as the new CEO of Infogrames. David is one of the most recognised professionals in the interactive entertainment software sector. He is a leading figure in this market, who brings a unique vision and experience to the Group. His appointment as the head of Infogrames marks a transformation milestone in the Group’s history.”

Mr. Gardner will assume responsibility for delivering a new vision for the Group, and will implement a multi-stage strategic programme to transform the Group into a market leader in its field.

In addition to relaunching the publishing initiatives and optimizing Infogrames’ global distribution network as announced, Mr. Gardner will focus on implementing a new brand and online vision for the Group, key success factors for a worldwide leader in the video game entertainment sector.

This transformative process will include rejuvenating the Atari brand name by building an online platform for distribution and gaming, assembling a world-class management team and restoring Group profitability through selective cost-cutting measures.

Michel Combes, the Chairman of Infogrames, made the following statement: “David is an entrepreneur, a gaming industry business leader, and has a strong vision for the future of Infogrames. We look forward to his leadership of Infogrames, as it enters a new phase of growth. We also want to thank Patrick Leleu for his able leadership of the company over the course of the last year. He has been successful in putting the Group back on a solid financial footing to execute its strategic plan and will continue, through a transitional consulting position, to offer his knowledge and insights to the Group going forward."

Gina Germano, a Director of Infogrames and a representative of BlueBay Asset Management, led the selection process of the new CEO. She said, "We have had the pleasure of getting to know David well in recent weeks and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with one of the true gaming pioneers. He brings a unique creative talent, industry vision and pragmatic business sense to this company. He is one of the strongest professionals we have come across. Based on his excellent track record, we have no doubt that David will build a team and execute a plan that will improve shareholder value meaningfully.”

Regarding his appointment, Mr. Gardner remarked, “I had a dream to work for Atari when I played Star Raiders in 1979. When you form such a powerful emotional relationship with a brand it can stay with you for your entire life. My goal is to help rebuild that passion around the company. First, with the employees and then very quickly to spread it virally on the Internet to millions of new customers. Remember that Infogrames was one of Europe’s first gaming companies. I have a personal challenge to create a world-class company that is European in flavour but reaches global markets. This will take some time of course, but here we have fantastic gaming DNA formed at the birth of the industry, access to creative talent and a company with the working capital to make the necessary investments to realize this vision. Over the coming months we want to work hard at showing the potential for what this renewed team can do and how it will excite gamers once again. Atari’s history is that of a world-class brand and I want to work with our team to create a world class company.”

David Gardner started his career programming PDP-11s in 1978 and selling Apple II computers in 1980 then joining Electronic Arts (EA) in 1983 as one of the first dozen employees. After focusing on sales and marketing early in his career, he became responsible for starting EA in the UK in 1986. In 1992, Mr. Gardner became the Managing Director of Europe. Over the next thirteen years, Mr. Gardner grew EA in Europe from a handful of people in the UK to gross revenue of approximately US $1 billion dollars with over 1,000 employees operating in fourteen countries. Mr. Gardner was also instrumental in making several acquisitions of games publishers in Europe and integrating them into EA. In 2004, Mr. Gardner was promoted to Senior Vice President of International Publishing, a post which was based in the US, where he continued to expand his international responsibilities, with a focus on Asia. Shortly, thereafter, he was appointed to Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of Worldwide Studios. During this period, he helped lead the reorganisation of the Studio business and expanded EA’s presence in the key Asian markets of Korea and China. Mr. Gardner left EA in August of 2007 to return to live in Europe with his family. He was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) on the Queen’s Birthday in June 2007.

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