Markets

Intro To An IRO: Henry Diamond, Take-Two Interactive Software

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Henry "Hank" Diamond is Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications at Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. - a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment for consumers around the globe, which is headquartered in New York City. With over 15 years of experience as an investor relations leader at a variety of companies, Hank's unique background also includes years of experience as a sell-side equity research analyst and as an attorney specializing in securities and accounting fraud litigation.

What are your top priorities and biggest challenges?

My top priority, which has remained consistent at all of the companies where I've led investor relations, is continually to improve the quality of our institutional shareholder base. At Take-Two, we have a high-quality shareholder base, which has improved significantly over the past several years. However, we still have opportunities to make it even better, as there are many large, long-term focused investment firms that are not currently shareholders. As result, we have a robust, proactive investor targeting program designed to attract and retain high-quality institutional shareholders. When a company has a stable shareholder base that doesn't trade in and out of its stock, the stock tends to be less volatile, which typically results in greater creation of shareholder value. In addition, we're always trying to expand our sell-side coverage. Take-Two is now covered by more than 20 sell-side analysts, but there are still a few analysts who cover the video game sector but don't cover Take-Two.

My biggest challenge right now is bandwidth. As both the video game industry and Take-Two in particular have shown tremendous positive momentum, there is so much investor interest that I spend most of my time either on the phone with investors or meeting with them in person. That means I have limited time to focus on other activities like internal shareholder reports and strategic planning.

How long have you seen the role of investor relations evolve over the past decade?

At all of the companies where I've led investor relations, the role was viewed as a senior position with a seat at the table. When I started in IR more than 15 years ago, that view was not consistent across all companies. There were some that valued investor relations as a strategic role, and there were others that considered the head of IR as little more than the person who set up meetings for the executive team. Today, I think that most companies view investor relations as an important, strategic role and the IR leader as an executive-level position.

I have been with Take-Two Interactive for just over seven years now and my role has remained much the same. I started out running investor relations and corporate communications and I still do today. As I touched upon earlier, interacting with investors has always been an important part of the role. There's so much investor interest now that it really dominates my time, which is a good thing.

How can the IRO best engage the investment community?

It is important to approach the investment community from a variety of fronts. That should include non-deal roadshows, investor conferences, and one-off meetings and conference calls. The sell-side analysts can be very helpful, but the best way to engage with the buy-side, in my opinion, is through proactive outreach. At Take-Two, we have a strategy to target high quality institutional investors and attract them to be shareholders. We partner with the sell-side for activities like non-deal roadshows and investor conferences, but we provide them with a list of targets that we want to prioritize for meetings. They are always welcome to make other suggestions, and oftentimes those can be very valuable, but at the end of the day I make the final decision as to which firms we meet with.

What is one important initiative that you've championed or experience that you've had as an IRO?

At all of the companies where I've led investor relations, my top priority and key strategic initiative has been to have a proactive campaign to improve the quality of the shareholder base through investor targeting. The senior executive team has understood my objective and its successful execution has created a lot of value by improving the shareholder base, lowering the volatility of the stock price, and helping to improve the stocks' valuation.

What resources do you rely on to stay up to date on the capital markets?

I use Nasdaq IR Insight® and their equity surveillance and shareholder identification services . The aspect that I find the most valuable is the online database and the ability to use it for targeting. We also get valuable insight from our surveillance analyst, in terms of who's buying the stock, who's selling it, and who our biggest shareholders are. Shareholder surveillance has become much more difficult in the world of electronic trading and dark pools, so it's not always accurate, but directionally it's very helpful.

What advice do you have for the next generation of IRO?

The key to success in investor relations is to be proactive and strategic, and make yourself a valued advisor to the senior executive team. If you can show that you can add real strategic value, that's how you will get a seat at the table.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.