When Take-Two's (NASDAQ:TTWO) new Chairman, Strauss Zelnick, appeared on CNBC recently, he talked about how the company would make every effort to become more transparent. Yet in its first test of transparency, with the disclosure of the formal SEC probe, it appears the company is becoming less transparent.
Consider this: When the company, under old management, announced the informal probe in 2006, which at the time appeared to be exclusively focused on stock options, it issued a press release. Furthermore, on at least two occasions it issued press releases that included disclosure that it had received subpoenas from the New York County Attorney General.
One of those press releases went so far as to say the subpoenas covered a number of things, including
disclosures and presentations by the company of certain events, including acquisitions, partnering arrangements and earnings results; invoices from, payments to and termination of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and retention of Ernst & Young LLP; acquisitions by the company in 2005; certain compensation and human resources documents with respect to the company and certain of its current and former officers and directors; and documents concerning the activities of the company's board of directors and committees, thereof.
Now, under new management, Take-Two relegated the disclosure of the formal probe to the bottom of an 8-K filed primarily to discuss a change in management. And then, as if attempting to spin the story so nobody asks about other things, the company slips in the phrase "among other things" to imply the focus of the formal probe is stock options. (The ploy worked: The press generally ignored the "among other things comment" and stuck with options.) If the new Take-Two is trying to be transparent, why didn't it give more detail? And why didn't it issue a press release?
Spokesman Jim Ankner's response:
Take-Two is cooperating fully with the SEC's investigation of the company's historic stock option issues. The new board and management team are fully committed to transparency and good governance. We intend to clean this issue up correctly and quickly.