Bruno’s departure boosts Atari stock

Videogame publisher sees 11% spike

New leadership at struggling videogame publisher Atari pleased Wall Street on Thursday as the departure of longtime topper Bruno Bonnell led to an 11% spike in the company’s stock price.

Exec left his post as Atari chairman and chief creative officer, as well as CEO of French firm Infogrames, which essentially acted as a holding company for Atari.

In September, Atari named music and movie industry vet David Pierce as CEO. He’ll continue in that role.

Patrick Leleu, a telco vet who has been on the Infogrames board since January, is taking over as CEO of France-based Infogrames.

Bonnell founded Infogrames in 1983. In 2001, the company took over Atari, a well-known brand that had been struggling. Despite a few hits like “Enter the Matrix” and the “Driver” series, which has since been sold to Ubisoft, publisher has continued to have problems. It has sold off much of its development capability and cut back the number of games it is releasing.

It’s not the only videogame publisher experiencing problems. “Grand Theft Auto” publisher Take Two, which recently saw its entire board of directors replaced and former BMG topper Strauss Zelnick installed as chairman, announced Wednesday that it has received a formal order of investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Like many other tech companies, Take Two is being investigated for allegedly backdating stock options in order to benefit top execs.

Company also revealed that former CEO Paul Eibeler, who left in March as part of the board shakeup, is receiving a severance payment of $2.475 million and $300,000 to provide consulting services for six months.

Shares in Take Two closed down 1% Thursday at $21.25. Atari stock closed at $3.97.

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