Toronto – SilverBirch Inc. (TSX-V: SVB), a leading digital entertainment company, today announced the appointment of Mr. Kevin Astle as interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Under Mr. Astle, a seasoned business and marketing strategist with extensive global experience, SilverBirch will refocus exclusively on the fast-growing gaming sector. Mr. Astle succeeds Derek van der Plaat, who resigned today as President and CEO, and as a Director of the company.
The refocused strategy leverages SilverBirch’s core strengths in gaming. The company’s primary goal will be to become a premier publisher and operator of Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) as well as video games for PCs and leading console platforms. The new corporate focus will build upon the company’s existing operations including video game developer SilverBirch Studios, Netherlands-based interactive entertainment publisher Lighthouse Interactive, and a co-venture to operate licensed English language online multiplayer games. The company is also acquiring Red Mile Entertainment, publisher of console games Sin City and Heroes Over Europe, in a deal expected to close in early 2009, subject to shareholder, legal and regulatory approvals.
SilverBirch has initiated a restructuring plan that is expected to deliver significant savings and drive profitable revenue growth and earnings. The plan’s first phase has been completed with the elimination of 6 staff positions. SilverBirch is considering options to divest its mobile business and will continue to review operations of all its business units to further reduce costs, improve margins, and enable more strategic investment in online multiplayer games and original game content development. The company’s MMOG business unit, currently comprising Metin2 and CrossFire, is expected to generate a significant portion of its future revenues and earnings. As a result of these changes, the company believes the guidance on financial performance issued by the previous CEO on October 1, 2008 is no longer applicable.
Mr. Astle is the founder of Marketing Imperatives International, a marketing and management consultancy that specializes in mergers, acquisitions, alliances and strategic business growth initiatives. As Executive Vice President and Managing Director of The Marketing Store Worldwide, a global marketing agency, he provided multi-disciplined communications services to major brand marketers such as McDonalds, Shell and Coca-Cola, throughout North and South America and launched its Canadian operation, now one of the top ten largest marketing firms in Canada. During his career he was recognized as Promotion Marketer of the Year both in Canada and globally. Mr. Astle was appointed a director of SilverBirch Inc. on October 16, 2008.
In conjunction with the restructuring, the Company has entered into multiple two-year contracts with three MMOG consulting companies, A&P Entertainment, Escalada International Limited, and Morsonwell Inc. who are all leaders in strategy and business development in the MMOG sector. They will provide consulting services in online game development, marketing and operations. The consulting agreements, which have no cash component, provide for the issuance of an aggregate of 10 million SilverBirch common shares, which will vest over the term of the contracts, as services are rendered on a quarterly basis, and will be subject to final documentation and TSX Venture Exchange approval.