Nintendo’s Iwata Will Skip Shareholder Meeting After Surgery

Jun 24, 2014 5:12 am ET

(Updates with share prices in fifth paragraph.)

June 24 (Bloomberg) -- Nintendo Co. President Satoru Iwata won’t attend the video-game company’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday after undergoing surgery last week to remove a bile- duct growth.

The growth was detected at an early stage, Iwata said in a letter to shareholders today, adding that he is recovering. The company’s meeting is due to be held at its Kyoto headquarters on June 27.

“I have already resumed my business by e-mail and by other means,” Iwata, 54, wrote. “But it is anticipated that a little more time is needed for me to return to my regular work schedule.”

Iwata, who has been president since 2002, missed the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles earlier this month after he was told not to fly overseas for health reasons. Nintendo, the maker of Super Mario and Zelda games, posted a net loss of 23.2 billion yen ($228 million) in the year ended March after earlier cutting the annual sales forecast amid stalling demand for its Wii U console.

Shares of Nintendo rose 0.4 percent to 12,445 yen at the close in Tokyo trading before Iwata’s announcement. The stock has dropped 11 percent this year, compared with a 2.6 percent decline in the benchmark Topix index.

Wii U Recovery

The company forecast Wii U sales will recover to 3.6 million units this fiscal year, with sales of 20 million software titles as games including Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. boost demand. Sales projections for its 3DS handheld player are 12 million units and 67 million games in the same period.

Iwata said in January that the company would “actively” expand its character licensing business as it struggles to retain customers amid a consumer shift to inexpensive games on smartphones.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles earlier this month, Nintendo unveiled a figurine platform known as Amiibo for the Wii U console. The platform, similar to Activision Blizzard Inc.’s Skylanders, allows users to place figures on the Wii U’s GamePad tablet to enter a Nintendo character into a game.

“I understand that I have to prioritize my medical treatment and to recover as soon as possible so that I will again be able to do my best to help the company to grow,” Iwata said in the letter.