GameStop CFO Resigns Weeks After Stock-Market Frenzy

GameStop CFO Resigns Weeks After Stock-Market Frenzy

The videogame retailer didn’t provide a reason for Jim Bell’s exit

GameStop Corp.’s finance chief is leaving weeks after a social-media-led frenzy sent the company’s share price soaring, only for it to fall afterward.

The Grapevine, Texas-based videogame retailer said Jim Bell will resign as executive vice president and chief financial officer March 26. He was appointed in June 2019.

GameStop, which also sells consumer electronics and gaming merchandise, didn’t provide a reason for Mr. Bell’s departure but lauded “his significant contributions and leadership, including his efforts over the past year during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The company said it has launched the search for a successor “to help accelerate the company’s transformation.” It plans to appoint Chief Accounting Officer Diana Jajeh to the role of interim CFO if it doesn’t find a permanent replacement for Mr. Bell by the time he leaves.

GameStop last year came under pressure from Chewy Inc. co-founder Ryan Cohen, who holds a nearly 13% stake through his investment firm RC Ventures LLC. RC Ventures in November sent a letter to GameStop’s board urging it to conduct a strategic review of the business and reduce its reliance on physical retail, focusing on e-commerce instead.

GameStop and RC Ventures in January agreed that Mr. Cohen, Chewy’s former Chief Operating Officer Alan Attal and former Chewy CFO Jim Grube would take board seats. The companies also agreed to standstill provisions until the annual general meeting in 2022.

Mr. Bell’s departure, which wasn’t related to a disagreement with the company or its operations, policies or practices, came shortly after GameStop earlier this month announced several new hires to its leadership team. Among those is Matt Francis, a former Inc. executive who will take on the newly created role of chief technology officer.

GameStop should consider a CFO with experience working at a bricks-and-mortar retailer with a strong e-commerce operation to help develop a larger digital presence, said Michael Pachter, a research analyst at financial-services firm Wedbush Securities Inc. The company currently has over 5,000 physical stores, it said in a release on Tuesday.

It will likely look for a finance chief with more operational expertise than financial skills as RC Ventures pushes for a major shift into a more digital operation, said Joseph Feldman, a senior managing director at Telsey Advisory Group, an investment bank.

GameStop was one of the companies whose stock skyrocketed in late January, driven by posts on Reddit and other social-media sites. Its share price rose from about $20 to $483 over two weeks in January as individual investors encouraged each other online to buy the stock and squeeze out hedge funds that had bet its price would fall.

U.S. regulators are investigating whether there was any market manipulation or other types of criminal misconduct that fueled the rapid rise in GameStop’s and other stocks.

GameStop’s shares rose about 13% Monday after Keith Gill, one of the company’s investors who rose to prominence in recent weeks, disclosed a larger stake on Friday. On Tuesday, GameStop shares closed at $44.97, down 2.2% on the day.

Before joining GameStop, Mr. Bell from 2016 to March 2019 served as CFO and interim chief executive of Wok Holdings Inc., the parent company of restaurant businesses including P.F. Chang’s and True Food Kitchen. Previous roles during his career included executive vice president and CFO at RLH Corp., a hospitality company, and CEO of Coldwater Creek Inc., a clothing retailer.

Mr. Bell didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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