Atari shareholders upset over upheaval

Investor groups suggest publisher's majority shareholder Infogrames could be intentionally driving down stock price.

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Infogrames appointed four independent directors to the governing board of its Atari publishing subsidiary today, but not before a group of Atari investors used the mass dismissal of directors from earlier this month as an opportunity to voice their ongoing displeasure with management.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last Friday, Atari investor Coghill Capital Management vented its frustrations over the company's direction. The investment group said Atari had entered into distribution agreements that unfairly favored Infogrames and paid then-CEO Bruno Bonnell from its own coffers for work that should have been charged to Infogrames.

"Now, with the unilateral removal of the independent directors, Infogrames has denied Atari of the only possible checks and balances on its 'favorable' arrangements with Atari," the group wrote on Friday. "These acts on the part of Infogrames indicate an intent to drive down Atari's stock price even lower with the prospect of buying out Atari's public shareholders 'on the cheap.'"

The group demanded that the board reform with a majority of independent directors (which it did today), reestablish an independent audit committee, seek compensation from Infogrames and Atari management for damages caused to the company and shareholders, and "put an end to the sweetheart agreements with Infogrames."

An Atari representative had not returned a request for comment as of press time.

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