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Viv U streamlines games

Cron to head new company

In a move that further strengthens its position as one of the largest vidgame publishers and distribs, Vivendi Universal said Wednesday it will combine the management and resources of its three separate gaming units under one roof to be called Vivendi Universal Games.

The new division will focus on the development of interactive entertainment for all gaming platforms, including the PC and vidgame consoles from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, as well as the Internet.

Based in New York, Vivendi Universal Games will merge the management and operations of the former Vivendi Universal Games division together with Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing North America and Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing Intl. The company has 1,800 staffers worldwide.

Those companies oversaw titles created by VU-owned vidgame publishers Blizzard Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment and Universal Interactive, as well as Partner Publishing Group, which manages co-publishing or distribution relationships with third-party partners including Coktel, Empire Interactive, Fox Interactive, Interplay, Knowledge Adventure, Mythic Entertainment and Simon & Schuster. Control of VU-owned online gaming venture Flipside Networks now falls under the conglom’s Internet group, which also oversees MP3.com.

Cron in charge

Kenneth Cron, who reports directly to VU Publishing chairman and CEO Agnes Touraine, will head the new company.

Cron will be responsible for advancing the division’s development of key brand franchises, while focusing on the strategic objectives of cross-platform distribution, global expansion and the development of online subscription-model content.

“By operating as a unified global entity, we strategically position ourselves to compete more effectively as one of the fastest-growing and most profitable interactive entertainment companies in the world,” Cron said.

The rest of the division’s management structure will be split along geographic lines: North America will be headed by Luc Vanhal, prexy and chief operating officer, North America. All regions outside North America will now be overseen by Christophe Ramboz, prexy and chief operating officer, international.

Additionally, Bob Marafioti, formerly executive veep and general counsel of Flipside Networks, has been tapped executive veep, general counsel and secretary of VU Games. Former Flipside executive veep of business development Frank Blot has been named executive veep, business development of VU Games. They both report to Cron.

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