Financial officer leaves troubled Eidos

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The Independent Online

Eidos, the troubled maker of computer games such as "Tomb Raider" starring Lara Croft, was dealt another blow yesterday when its chief financial officer quit the company with immediate effect.

Eidos, the troubled maker of computer games such as "Tomb Raider" starring Lara Croft, was dealt another blow yesterday when its chief financial officer quit the company with immediate effect.

Shares in Eidos, which recently launched the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'' game, closed down 22.25p at 288.5p after earlier falling 16 per cent on the announcement. Eidos said Jeremy Lewis was "leaving to pursue a range of other interests," adding that it was looking outside the firm for a replacement.

Eidos shares have slumped from 1,290p in mid-December despite the firm saying in June it was in talks with a potential buyer, later revealed to be Infogrames Entertainment, the biggest video-game maker in Europe. In August Eidos said discussions with the company were continuing.

Mike McGarvey, Eidos's chief operating officer, said Mr Lewis quit because he was frustrated that the share slump meant the company could not make acquisitions. "Jeremy joined us thinking we were going to be doing a lot of deals,'' he said. "Our ability to do deals was reduced as a result of profit warnings and as the market changed. His interests lie more in the world of finance, mergers and acquisitions.'' Eidos has issued two profit warnings this year.

On 31 July Infogrames said it was looking to make a "global'' acquisition, in addition to a possible bid for Eidos. Julian Morse, analyst at Beeson Gregory, said an all-share bid for Eidos was still possible at a price as low as £3, but Infograme's own stock performance would probably determine a purchase. Infograme was not available for comment.

Mr Lewis joined Eidos in October 1998 from Robert Fleming, where he was director of corporate finance. His salary was £160,000 at Eidos, and he was sitting on 750,000 share options exercisable in 2001 that would yield a paper profit of almost £1m on yesterday's price.

Eidos shares have been hit by slowing sales because consumers are holding off buying games until Sony releases PlayStation 2. Eidos made a first-quarter loss this year of £15.3m, up from £14m in the same period a year earlier.

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