Age Of Conan News: Bad News for Age of Conan Fans As CEO dumps Funcom Stock

The Announcement

Funcom N.V. is a publicly traded company and therefore any stock sales made by officers of the company are required by law to be announced publicly. The announcement read:

Funcom N.V (NO) (OSL:FUNCOM) Mandatory Notification Of Trade

Funcom N.V (NO) (OSL:FUNCOM) Arminius AS, has on 15 August sold 400,000 shares in Funcom N.V. at NOK 17.2824 per share. Arminius AS, is wholly owned by Mr. Trond Aas, the CEO and Managing Director of Funcom N.V. Arminius AS sells the shares in Funcom primarily to cover Mr. Aas’ acquisition costs of the shares as well as accumulated wealth tax costs of the past six years as a result of the holdings in Funcom. Mr. Aas and Arminius AS have over the course of those 6 years not sold any shares in the Company.

The sale represents 18,7% of his outstanding shares and exercisable options.

After the transaction, Arminius AS and Mr. Aas own a total of 1.187.825 shares, corresponding to 2.25% of the outstanding shares in the company and 552.500 options in Funcom. Mr. Aas and Arminius do not plan further share sales over the coming 12 months, except potentially to cover tax costs related to options exercised during that period.

Timing is Suspicious

The timing of this sale is what has fans of Funcom’s games particularly concerned. The recent quarterly earnings report showed that Age of Conan had already lost nearly half of its customers. After the first two months, AoC was down from 800,000+ subscribers to approximately 415,000.

The stock price of Funcom N.V has been in free fall lately. As of August 22, 2008 it closed at $13.60 per share. This is down from $55.50 in late May (just after the release of Age of Conan).

What is Funcom?

The official details on Funcom, according to Business Week:

Funcom N.V. operates as an independent developer and publisher of computer and console games with a focus on action adventure and massively multiplayer online games worldwide. The company develops various entertainment software products for video game consoles, personal computers, and other Internet-connected hardware platforms. It offers single-player titles, massively multiplayer online games; online role playing games; and related games on various electronic devices. The company was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Dubendorf, Switzerland with additional offices in Norway, the United States, and the People’s Republic of China.

Funcom N.V. is the creator of the MMORPGs Anarchy Online and Age of Conan.

What is Age of Conan?

Age of Conan (Aoc) is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (RPG) released on May 20, 2008 by Funcom N.V. It is estimated by some industry analysists that development of AoC cost $40-50 million. The recent loss of half its customer base, and further expected losses, has resulted in the precipitous stock decline.

A review of Age of Conan can be found here.