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Deadline passes in EA bid to buy Take-Two Interactive shares PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 May 2008

Agency

A deadline for Take-Two Interactive Software shareholders to agree to a buyout by video game giant Electronic Arts has passed with neither firm commenting on the takeover bid's fate.

EA took its two-billion-dollar offer directly to Take-Two shareholders after the board of directors rejected the bid, saying it undervalues the company behind blockbuster video games including the hot "Grand Theft Auto" franchise.

EA set Friday as the expiration date for its offer to buy shares of Take-Two stock for 26 dollars each. Take-Two shares were priced slightly above that amount in after-hours trading.

"There is nothing going on right now," Take-Two spokeswoman Meg Maise said when asked about the status of the bid Friday afternoon. "It is in (EA's) court."

EA did not return AFP requests for comment.

Take-Two's board refused to even discuss a takeover with EA prior to the April 29 launch of "Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City Stories," which tallied a record-breaking 500 million dollars in sales in its first week.

The "GTA" franchise is as controversial as it is popular because of its violence. Players score points with acts such as carjacking and killing prostitutes or police officers.

Analysts credit "GTA: IV" with causing US video game software sales to surge to 1.23 billion dollars in April as compared to 839 million dollars during the same month a year earlier.

"GTA: IV is one of the fastest-selling titles in video games history," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a written release.

While EA maintains it factored the predictable success of "GTA: IV" into its offer, analysts believe the game's superstar performance puts pressure on the world's largest video game maker to up the ante.

Take-Two might have additional leverage due to a freshly announced deal with Universal Pictures to have its "Bioshock" video game made into a movie directed by Gore Verbinski, who directed the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy.

"Bioshock" features morally-disturbing choices and genetic weaponry and has reportedly sold more than two million copies since it was released last year by 2K Games, a studio owned by Take-Two.

A "Bioshock" game sequel is slated for release next year.

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