Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello Resigns

3:39 PM PST 03/18/2013 by Paul Bond
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John Riccitiello

He has been replaced by board member Lawrence Probst, who assumes the role of executive chairman.

John Riccitiello has stepped down as CEO of video-game publisher Electronic Arts and has relinquished his board seat, the company said Monday while simultaneously saying its quarterly finances could miss guidance.

Lawrence Probst, a board member and former CEO, has become executive chairman and will assume Riccitiello's duties while the company seeks a new CEO.

Because Riccitiello also quit the board, EA said it has reduced its number of authorized directors from nine to eight.

Riccitiello's separation agreement includes him continuing to draw his regular salary for 24 months and the continued vesting of his unvested options through Nov. 30.

"It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued in January, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago," Riccitiello said in his resignation letter. "EA's shareholders and employees expect better and I am accountable for the miss."

In his letter, the outgoing CEO also named several of EA's top game franchises, including Battlefield, FIFA, The Simpsons and Tapped Out.

"I leave knowing EA is a great company, with an enormously talented group of leaders and the strongest slate of games in the industry."

Shares of EA fell 1 percent to $18.71 during the regular session. After the closing bell, when Riccitiello's resignation was disclosed, shares rose 2 percent. Shares are up 7 percent in the past year though nearly flat over the past two years.

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