Rumor: EA in Acquisition Talks with Ubisoft

By Chris Faylor, Feb 27, 2008 10:27am PST French video game developer Ubisoft may be the next target of an acquisition offer from mega-publisher Electronic Arts, according to details uncovered by GameCyte.

Earlier this week, Electronic Arts publicly revealed its intent to purchase Grand Theft Auto property holder Take-Two Interactive and launched EATake2.com, a website detailing that effort. Take-Two has since rejected EA's offer of $2 billion, prompting speculation of a hostile takeover.

The very same day that EA registered EATake2.com, EAUbisoft.com was registered as well. Though both registrations do not specifically mention EA, the WhoIs information for each site is identical, suggesting EA is also behind the Ubisoft domain.

An EA buyout of Ubisoft has been rumored ever since EA purchased a 20% stake in Ubisoft back in 2004. Both Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillmeot and EA COO William Gordon have chimed in on the matter in recent times, but EA has yet to take any further action. Meanwhile, Ubisoft has diluted EA's American holdings in the company down to 15.4%.

The strong perfomance of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed last quarter was believed to have reduced the chances of an acquisition. At the time, the company was valued at $4.3 billion, and it expected to sell more than 5 million copies of Assassin's Creed by March.

It is widely speculated that EA's renewed vigor towards acquisitions is a result of the unexpected merger between Activision and Vivendi Games, which replaced EA as the world's biggest third-party publisher.

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