Atari taps veteran exec for CEO gig

Jim Wilson to oversee videogame publisher

Struggling vidgame publisher Atari has tapped a respected industry vet as its CEO, signaling that the long-troubled company is attempting to revive its fortunes.

Jim Wilson, who most recently headed Sony BMG’s home entertainment unit and was previously exec veep of worldwide studios for Vivendi Universal Games, was named to the position Monday.

He’ll work closely with former EA exec David Gardner and Sony exec Phil Harrison, who were recently named CEO and prexy, respectively, of Atari parent company Infogrames.

Infogrames made an offer in March to buy all the remaining shares of Atari, which would turn it into a wholly owned subsidiary. Atari, which has a market cap of less than $20 million, has had trouble keeping up an adequate value to stay on the Nasdaq. It recently received a delisting notice from the exchange.

Despite its well-known name, Atari hasn’t had much business success recently. Severe financial troubles led it to sell off most of its development studios and focus on just a few key games made by outside developers.

As of Dec. 31, Atari had only $5.4 million in cash and had lost nearly $20 million in the previous nine months. However, the company recently re-established a line of credit worth $14 million to fund its ongoing operations.

Since October, the company was led by a “chief restructuring officer,” an indication of its dismal status.

Atari stock closed flat at $1.45 Monday. That’s below Infogrames’ offer to buy all outstanding shares at $1.68 a share, an indication that some shareholders think the deal may not happen.

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