It hasn't taken long for activist investor Carl Icahn to enact a change at Take-Two. In December, the billionaire investor acquired 11 percent of the Grand Theft Auto publisher, a move that caused several industry analysts to speculate that Icahn may be pressuring Take-Two management to sell the company. Now, the New York City-based publisher has agreed to replace three members of its board of directors at the request of Icahn and other stockholders.
Current CEO Ben Feder, Grover C. Brown, and John F. Levy will be stepping down from Take-Two's current board as part of management's deal with Icahn. Take-Two notes that Feder will retain his position as CEO of the publisher. Pending shareholder approval, Icahn's son Brett Icahn, as well as Sung Hwan Cho and James L. Nelson will join Take-Two's board.
"It's important to note that Mr. Icahn did not request that these directors in particular step down; they were willing to continue in their role but agreed not to stand for reelection in keeping with their commitment to the company and desire to put the best interests of stockholders first, as they have done throughout their tenure on the board," said Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick in a statement.
For his part, Icahn commended Take-Two for its "responsiveness" to his request. As part of the deal, Icahn's nominees will promptly resign should his stake in the company fall below 5 percent. Icahn also committed to backing the remainder of Take-Two's board, which comprises Strauss Zelnick, Michael Dornemann, Robert Bowman, Michael Sheresky, and J Moses (not to be confused with Microsoft's J Allard).
Icahn's involvement in Take-Two began in early December, after the publisher preannounced disappointing fourth quarter results and its stock slid 30 percent overnight. Days later, Icahn and his partners made dozens of stock purchases to obtain their current stake in Take-Two. Icahn's holding in the company stands at approximately 11.3 percent.