Top U games exec ankles

Reorg likely reason for Vanhal exit

HOLLYWOOD — Vivendi Universal Games prexy Luc Vanhal has ankled in a surprise move for the No. 2 exec at the U-affiliated vidgame company.

Company declined to comment except for a brief statement announcing his departure issued late Monday.

According to sources close to the company, though, VU Games has been in the midst of a reorganization that was slowly taking Vanhal out of the loop. A number of employees who used to report to him were being moved to other execs, making it likely his departure was mutually agreeable.

Vanhal has been with the company since VU Games was formed in late 2001 by combining a number of vidgame units owned by Viv U.

Unit was most recently revamped in January, when Bruce Hack, one of the lead negotiators in GE’s purchase of Viv U’s entertainment assets, took over as new CEO after Vivendi unsuccessfully tried to sell the division last year.

He was charged by Vivendi’s top management to turn around the struggling unit, which had a pro forma operating loss of more than $200 million in 2003.

Company’s games skedded for release this year include an adaptation of U’s “Van Helsing” and a new title based on Fox’s “Fight Club.”

Hack is assuming interim responsibilities for Vanhal until a replacement is named.

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