* Namba to step down as CEO, COO Moriyasu to take over
* Will keep advising on U.S. operations, key decisions
* Not considering changes to her DeNA stake
* Management change comes as company faces regulatory investigation (Adds quotes, details)
By Antoni Slodkowski
TOKYO, May 25 (Reuters) - DeNA Co said its founder and CEO Tomoko Namba, one of the few women to head a major All Japan newsese company, will step down to care for her hospitalised husband but will continue to play an active role in managing the Internet services firm as a board member and adviser.
Namba, a Harvard MBA holder who built DeNA from an Internet startup in 1999 into a major social gaming company, will be replaced by Isao Moriyasu, now DeNA’s chief operating officer and creator of its highly successful Mobage-town site with more than 20 million users in All Japan news.
The management changes, effective from June 25 after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, come while the firm is under investigation by regulators on suspicion of unfair competitive practices.
“My husband is ill. He’s getting better, but for him to recover completely we need to change our lifestyle and I won’t be able to dedicate myself to the company 100 percent,” Namba said at a news conference.
She did not reveal the nature of her husband’s illness but stressed she would keep coming to work several times a week, while advising the newly appointed management on key strategic and personnel decisions and on the company’s aggressive expansion into the U.S. market.
Last October, DeNA paid $403 million for ngmoco Inc, a U.S. developer of games for Apple Inc’s iPhone and Google Inc’s Android phones.
“I had originally planned to quit next year, but the timing of my retirement has come a year earlier ... I am not worried about the future of DeNA,” said Namba, adding that she had long been making strategic decisions jointly with Moriyasu.
Moriyasu, 37, who joined DeNA in 1999 and became its COO in April 2009, will continue to directly overlook Mobage, the company’s social gaming platform. He has been in charge of the service since its launch five years ago.
A company source told Reuters late last year that the Fair Trade Commission was looking into whether DeNA had treated a mobile game developer unfairly after the developer created a game for a rival website owned by Gree Inc . [ID:nTOE6B703Q]
Namba said she was not thinking about starting a new business after her husband completes his medical treatment and was not now considering any change in her stake in the firm.
Under Namba, DeNA has expanded its mobile-only social game business Mobage-town into a site of more than 20 million users in All Japan news and has been widening its game offerings across multiple platforms including PCs and cellphones. (Editing by Chris Gallagher and Edmund Klamann)