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8 Mar 2007

Hedge Funds To Oust "Grand Theft Auto" CEO

Shares in the makers of the video game "Grand Theft Auto", Take-Two shot up nearly 8%, from $1.34, to $18.95 yesterday. The increase came immediately after investors including Steven Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors LLC and David Shaw's D.E. Shaw & Co., both hedge fund managers, announced the plan to remove the embattled video-game designer's CEO in a regulatory filing.

A group of high-profile hedge funds that collectively control about 46% of Take-Two Interactive Software has launched a proxy battle to "review the employment status" of CEO Paul Eibeler and CFO Karl Winters.

In addition to the management changes, the hedge fund group also is seeking to appoint a total of six board members. They plan to present their nominees at Take-Two's March 23 board meeting. The slate includes media honcho Strauss Zelnick, Benjamin Feder, Jon Moses, Michael Dornemann and Michael James Sheresky.

"Management has sort of lost the faith of the investor community,'' said Todd Mitchell, a Kaufman Brothers LP analyst in New York, in an interview. "A shake up would be a positive thing,'' said Mitchell. The investor group began forming in early February after veteran activist Carl Icahn floated the idea of agitating for change. At one point in 2006, he had 2.8 million shares.

Take-Two also remains the subject of a criminal investigation by the New York district attorney’s office regarding stock options backdating and possibly broader issues. The S.E.C. also has started an informal investigation into the video game company.

Hedge Fund N.I.R. Group Scores Highest %Increase

As combined assets at the largest U.S. hedge funds finally crossed the trillion-dollar mark, some are doing better than others. According to the bi-annual hedge fund survey by industry publication, Absolute Return, N.Y.-based NIR Group scored the biggest increase in raw percentages, a 789% increase.

The firm, run by Corey Ribotsky, manages a handful of Roslyn, N.Y. hedge funds with $630 million under management and approximately $622 million in PIPEinvestments.

Ribotsky also launched a credit opportunities fund last year. Under his direction, the firm raised more than $3 billion for the fund, expanding to $3.62 billion from $407 the previous year earlier, a 789% increase.

Ribotsky, 36, is the Managing Member of N.I.R. Group, LLC, a boutique investment management firm. Mr. Ribotsky has been investing in public companies since 1992. Prior to becoming a member of N.I.R., Mr. Ribotsky was a member of the investment management firm, The Rainmaker Group, LLC located in Red Bank, New Jersey.

The N.I.R. Group has offices in Roslyn, New York. Both R&C Advisors, LLC and R&C Investors, LLC are based in New York.