Activision Shrinks Distribution Executive's Role

Richard Steele will limit his day-to-day involvement.
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Activision

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is easing out the head of its distribution division from handling daily operations.

The video-game software publisher has reached an agreement with Richard Steele, president of Activision distribution, that will limit his involvement in the day-to-day running of the company's combined distribution holdings unit and will reduce his salary as a result, Activision said in a regulatory document filed Wednesday. Steele, who has served in his current position since 2002, will continue to be involved in setting the strategy and helping make executive-level decisions for the distribution company, according to the filing.

The agreement "contemplates a succession for senior management of CDH," Activision said in the filing, adding that Steele's "responsibilities will be assumed by other executives currently employed by CDH." Activision didn't disclose why it was making the change.

The move is the latest management shakeup at Activision. Last month, the company named Ron Doornink as chairman of its publishing division and replaced him as CEO of the division with Michael Griffith, a longtime manager at

Proctor & Gamble

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.

The management moves come despite strong recent results from the company. Last year, Activision's earnings jumped 78% on a 48% rise in sales.

Results at the company's distribution arm grew at a slower, though still respectable pace. Operating income at the division increased 43% to $23.7 million as sales grew 18% to $333.12 million.

Steele earned $797,533 in salary and cash bonus in fiscal 2004, the most recent year for which Activision has disclosed executive compensation figures. Activision also contributed $33,073 to Steele's retirement plan that year and awarded him 49,500 stock options, worth about $200,000 at grant.

That was up from fiscal 2003, when he earned $412,812 in salary and cash bonus, received $25,953 in retirement compensation and got no options.

Steele previously served as managing director of Centresoft, which Activision acquired in 1997. He has served as an executive or manager in Activision's distribution division since then.

The filing followed the close of regular trading on Wednesday. In after-hours exchanges, the company's stock was off 22 cents, or 1.2%, to $18. Earlier in the day, the company's stock closed the regular session up 14 cents, or less than 1%, to $18.22.