Following weeks of headline-grabbing attention from a social media-fueled stock trading frenzy, GameStop announced Tuesday its Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell will resign from his role effective March 26.
A reason for Bell's resignation was not immediately clear. In an SEC filing on Tuesday, GameStop said Bell's resignation was "not because of any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices, including accounting principles and practices."
According to a separate SEC filing detailing the terms of Bell's employment agreement when he joined the retailer in 2019, Bell could "terminate his employment within 12 months due to any of the following" five events:
- A material diminution in Executive’s Base Salary or the Target Amount of Executive’s annual bonus opportunity;
- A material diminution in Executive’s authority, duties, or responsibilities;
- Any other material breach of this Agreement by the Company;
- The Company relocates Executive’s principal worksite outside of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area; or
- In the event of a sale of substantially all the business and assets of the Company, a failure of the Company to assign, or a refusal of the principal purchaser of assets to assume, the Company’s then continuing obligations under this Agreement.
Under any of these events, Bell was required to give notice within 90 days, with GameStop having 30 days to "remedy the condition."
FOX Business asked GameStop which of these "events" triggered Bell's resignation but a spokesperson for GameStop 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 announcing store closures to stay afloat. The company's stock became a target of short-sellers. Hedge fund giant Melvin Capital was one of the biggest "shorts" and eventually, the firm found itself in a face-to-face standoff with retail investors on forums like Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets.
The social media platform pushed a trading frenzy that saw the price of GameStop’s shares rise to $347.51 at the end of January after trading in the low double digits just weeks earlier. On Tuesday the stock closed at $44.97.
The activity sparked new concerns about market volatility and spurred hearings on Capitol Hill.
Bell was named to the CFO and executive vice president role in June 2019. Prior to joining GameStop, Bell served as CFO and interim CEO of Wok Holdings, Inc., the parent company of P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei and True Food Kitchen restaurants. He also previously served as executive vice president and CFO at RLH Corporation and president and CEO of Coldwater Creek, Inc. In addition, he held senior finance roles at Harry & David Holdings, Inc. and The Gap earlier in his career.
Bell received his MBA from the University of Maryland and a B.S. in Economics from the U.S. Naval Academy. Following graduation, Bell served as a Naval Flight Officer leading squadron and flight operations in the U.S. Navy from 1989 to 1998.
The company has launched a search for Bell's permanent replacement, noting that they are seeking a CFO with "the capabilities and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop’s transformation." The search, which will evaluate both internal and external candidates, is being conducted by a "leading executive search firm."
If a permanent replacement is not in place at the time of Bell’s departure, GameStop intends to appoint chief accounting officer and senior vice president Diana Jajeh to the role of interim CFO.
Jaejeh, who began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers and subsequently held senior roles at companies including Visa and e.l.f. Cosmetics, has more than two decades of experience as an auditor, comptroller and corporate finance executive.