EA Proposes Take-Two Acquisition, Bids $2 Billion (Updated)

By Nick Breckon, Feb 24, 2008 11:42am PST Update: Take-Two's board of directors has rejected Electronic Arts' proposal.

"After careful evaluation, the Board has determined that EA's proposal substantially undervalues Take-Two's robust and enviable stable of game franchises, exceptional creative talent and strong consumer loyalty," said the company. "We believe EA's unsolicited offer is highly opportunistic and is attempting to take advantage of our upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto IV, one of the most valuable and durable franchises in the industry."

"Electronic ArtsÂ’ proposal provides insufficient value to our shareholders and comes at absolutely the wrong time given the crucial initiatives underway," added executive Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick.

In what Zelnick calls the "only prudent and responsible" course of action, the board has decided to consider EA's proposal again on April 30, the day after Grand Theft Auto IV's release.

Original story: Publishing giant Electronic Arts last Tuesday proposed an acquisition of fellow publisher Take-Two at a price of $26 per share, or approximately $2 billion total.

Electronic Arts claims the proposal is more than fair, quoting the $26 share price as a 64 percent increase over Take-Two's recent stock value.

"There can be no certainty that in the future EA or any other buyer would pay the same high premium we are offering today," said EA CEO John Riccitiello.

The Take-Two umbrella includes the publishing labels 2K Sports, 2K Games, and Rockstar Games. Together the labels encompass such hit properties as Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto, BioShock 2K Boston's Bioshock, and Firaxis' Sid Meier's Civilization.

The potential acquisition would put sports studios 2K Sports and EA Sports under the same roof, possibly eliminating the already-waning balance of sports franchise competitiveness.

The proposal also reveals that Take-Two recently declined an offer of $25 per share by Electronic Arts on February 15, prompting EA to increase the offer in a letter dated February 19. The letter stipulated a deadline of February 22--last Friday--to begin talks of a merger.

"I know we both agree that Take-Two's talented creative teams deserve a permanent home within a stable and growing publisher that provides these teams an environment to do what they do best - create great games," wrote Riccitiello in the letter.

The Electronic Arts chief placed significant emphasis on the impending release of Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV.

"We place significant value on the ability to close the transaction relatively quickly so that EA's strong publishing and distribution network, including our global packaged goods, online and wireless publishing organizations, can positively impact the catalogue sales of GTA IV and also the launch and sale of titles released later this year."

Electronic Arts recently shelled out $860 million to acquire VG Holding Corp., owner of renowned development studios BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios.

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