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'Grand Theft Auto' Maker Put On Notice By SEC

  Securities  -   POSTED: 2007/08/17 16:26

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., maker of the "Grand Theft Auto" video game franchise, said Wednesday it received a Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission indicating that the agency may file charges against the company following an investigation of its past stock options practices. It was the latest in a string of blows to Take-Two, which earlier this month delayed the release of its most important upcoming title, "Grand Theft Auto IV," and warned it would post a loss for the year. The company is also still reeling from a shareholder coup that ousted its former management earlier this year.

In an SEC filing, Take-Two said the SEC staff informed the company that it plans to seek authority from the Commission to file charges and pursue a civil monetary penalty.

The Wells notice gives Take-Two a final chance to respond to the SEC and convince the agency not to file charges.

In the filing, Take-Two said it expects "to resolve this investigation by means of a settlement rather than a contested litigation of charges ... the 'Wells' call represents a significant step forward towards that resolution."

Take-Two said in April it had received a formal order of investigation from the SEC.

The New York-based company had said a review uncovered a significant number of option grants that were backdated during a period of more than six years to August 2003.

In February, former Take-Two Chief Executive Ryan Brant pleaded guilty to criminal charges over backdating options, becoming the first ex-CEO to do so in recent probes into options irregularities at dozens of U.S. companies.


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