After weeks of drawing headlines’ attention to a social media-fueled stock trading frenzy, GameStop announced Tuesday that its chief financial officer Jim Bell will step down from his position effective March 26.
The reason for Bell’s resignation was not immediately clear. In a filing with the SEC on Tuesday, GameStop said that Bell’s resignation “was not due to any disagreement with the Company on any matter related to the Company’s operations, policies or practices, including accounting principles and practices.”
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According to a separate SEC filing detailing the terms of Bell’s employment contract when he joined the retailer in 2019, Bell could “terminate his employment within 12 months due to any of the following” five events:
- A substantial decrease in the executive’s base salary or the target amount of the executive’s annual bonus opportunity;
- A material decrease in the authority, duties or responsibilities of the Executive;
- Any other material breach of this Agreement by the Company;
- Company Relocates Main Executive Work Site Outside of Dallas / Ft. Worth Metro Area; or
- In the event of a sale of substantially all of the Company’s businesses and assets, a failure of the Company to assign, or a refusal by the principal purchaser of assets to assume, the continuing obligations of the Company under this Agreement.
Under any of these events, Bell was required to notify you within 90 days, and GameStop had 30 days to “remedy the condition.”
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FOX Business asked GameStop which of these “events” triggered Bell’s resignation, but a GameStop spokesperson declined to comment further on the announcement.
In the company’s press release announcing the change, GameStop thanked Bell “for his significant contributions and leadership, including his efforts over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
GameStop had been struggling even before the pandemic devastated the retail sector by announcing store closures to stay afloat. The company’s stock became a target for short sellers. Hedge fund giant Melvin Capital was one of the biggest “shorts” and eventually the firm found itself in a face-to-face showdown with retail investors on forums like Reddit’s r / WallStreetBets.
The social media platform fueled a trading frenzy that sent GameStop’s stock price soaring to $ 347.51 in late January after trading in the low double digits just a few weeks earlier. On Tuesday the stock closed at $ 44.97.
The activity raised new concerns about market volatility and stimulated hearings on Capitol Hill.
Bell was appointed CFO and Executive Vice President in June 2019. Prior to joining GameStop, Bell served as CFO and Interim CEO of Wok Holdings, Inc., the parent company of PF Chang’s, Pei Wei and True Food restaurants. Kitchen. He also previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at RLH Corporation and President and Chief Executive Officer of Coldwater Creek, Inc. In addition, he held senior financial positions at Harry & David Holdings, Inc. and The Gap early in his career.
Bell received his MBA from the University of Maryland and a BA in Economics from the US Naval Academy.After graduation, Bell served as a naval flight officer leading flight and squadron operations in the US Navy. From 1989 to 1998.
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The company has launched a search for a permanent replacement for Bell, noting that they are seeking a CFO with “the capabilities and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop’s transformation.” The search, which will evaluate internal and external candidates, is being conducted by a “leading executive search firm.”
If there is no permanent replacement at the time of Bell’s departure, GameStop intends to appoint Chief Accountant and Senior Vice President Diana Jajeh to the position of Interim Chief Financial Officer.
Jaejeh, who began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers and later held leadership positions at companies such as Visa and elf Cosmetics, has more than two decades of experience as an auditor, controller, and corporate finance executive.