Take-Two, which turned down Electronic Arts’ $26/share, $2 billion offer over the weekend, says that ERTS hasn’t been the only company kicking the tires. But Viacom, which has been linked to TTWO in previous reports, says it’s unlikely to be buyer for the game publisher — or any other big game company.
You can take both statements with varying degrees of salt. Take-Two says it doesn’t have anything approaching a serious offer, and Viacom has left itself enough wiggle room to change its mind, if it wants.
TTWO’s statement comes via its just-filed proxy, where it’s trying to convince shareholders to bump up the compensation package for ZelnickMedia, which has been running the publisher since last spring.
“From time to time the Company receives, and since the issuance of the press release by EA the Company has received, informal indications of interest in a business combination. However, the Company has not received any written “Offers” … and has not engaged in any substantive discussions with any party (including EA) with respect to a business combination.”
This shouldn’t be a shock. Now that TTWO’s formally in play, it makes perfect sense for other buyers to take a free look — and perhaps, in doing so, drive Take-Two (TTWO) shares up and keep it away from EA (ERTS) at the same time.
Meanwhile, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who just spent much of his Q4 earnings call talking up his company’s games business, says that’s he’s happy with the assets he has. Asked if he’d be interested in a deal along the size of Activision-Vivendi ($2.4 billion), Electronic Arts-VG Holdings ($860 million) or the proposed ERTS-TTWO deal ($2 billion), he says he’s happy to stay put. Probably.
“We think we have the assets in our businesss to build a very interesting game business”, Dauman said. “We don’t anticpate participating in the battle between the pure game companies, who are interested in building up their scope.”
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