EA chairman: "Absolutely no plan to replace Riccitiello"

Electronic Arts chairman Larry Probst put an end to speculation about CEO John Riccitiello’s employment today.

Speaking at the firm’s annual meeting of shareholders he said there was "absolutely no plan to replace John Riccitiello as CEO".

He was speaking in response to a shareholder question that asked about recent rumours and remarks that suggested the CEO’s tenure could come to an end.

Whether it be misconstrued comments from analyst Michael Pachter – who joked that JR ‘feared for his job’ as the share price for EA fell – or unsubstantiated rumours about the CEO’s succession, some have been keen to speculate about the exec.

But Probst said "the board has a high level of confidence in John and the management team. They have done a good job of exceeding the operating plan in the last few years.

And although, "on a regular systematic basis and we talk about succession planning in the longer term" – just like any other company – "at this point there is absolutely no plan to replace John Riccitiello as CEO".

The speculation in part stems from EA’s stock market woes. EA’s share price has been in a serious slide for the last eight months, today trading at just under $12, down over 50 per cent since a $25 high in November. (A figure significantly down since, of course, the approx $50 price EA stock carried pre-global financial crisis in 2008.)

Riccitiello himself, however, was confident at today’s meeting in the face of shareholder comments about the trading price.

He said the low price is a "buying opportunity" for investors. And although he quipped "all CEOs would say that", the CEO pointed to genuine areas of growth for EA in the last year to prove it; Specifically the fast-expanding digital segment of EA’s business, now generating over $1bn in revenue.

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