EA in Hostile Bid to Acquire Take Two

February 24, 2008 -
Entertainment software giant Electronic Arts announced today that it is seeking to merge with GTA publisher Take Two Interactive in what would be a two billion dollar deal. 

But Take Two is playing hard-to-get.

An EA press release claims that it offered $26 per share for Take Two stock in a February 19th letter from EA CEO John Riccitiello (right) to T2 boss Strauss Zelnick (left). After Take Two management rejected EA's offer, Riccitiello decided to appeal directly to T2 shareholders. The $26 offering price represents a better than 60% premium over recent T2 share prices.

Said Riccitiello:
Our all-cash proposal is a unique opportunity for Take-Two shareholders to realize immediate value at a substantial premium, while creating long-term value for EA shareholders. Take-Two's game designers would also benefit from EA's financial resources, stable, game-focused management team, and strong global publishing capabilities.

But EA's cash-laden offer also came with a warning:
There can be no certainty that in the future EA or any other buyer would pay the same high premium we are offering today.

For the full text of EA's letter to Take Two, hit the jump...

Dear Strauss:

Thank you for your letter of February 15, 2008. While I appreciate its courteous tone and value our ongoing dialogue, I am disappointed that you have rejected Electronic Arts Inc.'s ("EA's") $25 per share cash offer to acquire Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. ("Take-Two") and declined to engage in the friendly negotiations we proposed.

We continue to believe that an acquisition of Take-Two by EA is in the best interests of your shareholders, employees and other constituents, and we remain interested in acquiring Take-Two. So, to further demonstrate our seriousness and encourage you to move forward now, I am writing to increase EA's offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Take-Two to $26 per share in cash. This offer is subject to Take-Two agreeing by February 22, 2008 to commence negotiation of a definitive merger agreement and to permit EA to commence a limited due diligence review of Take-Two.

Our revised all-cash offer represents a 64% premium over Take-Two's most recent closing price and a 63% premium over Take-Two's 30-day trailing average price (based on prices as of market close on Friday, February 15th). We believe our offer represents a unique and compelling opportunity for Take-Two shareholders to maximize the value of their investment in the company, with materially lower risk than if Take-Two proceeds on a stand-alone basis.

We also believe that the transaction we are proposing represents a uniquely attractive opportunity for Take-Two's creative teams and key employees. EA is a diversified leader with well-established franchises and proven intellectual properties, global reach, and significant financial resources. 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. EA is organized in a four-label model that provides our creative teams the autonomy they need to fully realize their creative ambitions, while also providing a stable and supportive corporate and publishing infrastructure which allows them to best address the global marketplace. We have the resources to make the significant investments in technology and infrastructure needed for the most creative and innovative games in the industry. In short, a combination with EA would provide Take-Two's studios and employees a combination of the right resources for investment and global reach, and the right environment to do their best work.

We believe that Take-Two's shareholders would not be well-served by any further delay in negotiating and completing the proposed merger. While the videogame industry remains an attractive, high-growth business, the challenges and risks in the business are escalating, and the need for scale is becoming more pronounced. Despite steps taken since March 2007, Take-Two remains dependent on a limited number of titles, and has limited capital resources. In addition, Take-Two faces ongoing financial, legal and operating issues and a very intense competitive environment. Given these factors, we believe it will be increasingly difficult for Take-Two to create sustainable shareholder value and that Take-Two remains exposed to considerable risk of value loss.

We also believe that any delay in this proposed transaction works against the interest of Take-Two's shareholders, because:

-- There can be no certainty that in the future EA or any other buyer would pay the same high premium we are offering today. 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. We want to work with you and your team to complete the transaction in time to begin realizing its significant marketplace benefits in advance of this year's holiday selling season.

-- We believe Take-Two's current share price already reflects investor expectations for a strong release of GTA IV as well as the longer-term issues that Take-Two faces. Once GTA IV ships, Take-Two will again be dependent on less-popular titles and face increasing challenges to compete with larger and better-capitalized competitors.

-- With GTA IV shipping on April 29, development on this important title must now be essentially complete. We believe now is the right time to complete a transaction with minimal disruption for Take-Two.

We also believe the transaction we are proposing will create value for EA's shareholders. In addition to the top-line benefits noted above, we can achieve bottom-line benefits by combining Take-Two's and EA's corporate and publishing infrastructures and by optimally supporting Take-Two's creative teams and intellectual properties in EA's decentralized label structure.

Considerable thought, time and resources have been put forth in developing this offer, and our Board of Directors unanimously supports it. Our offer is not conditioned on any financing requirement. It is subject to the satisfactory completion of a due diligence review of Take-Two, the negotiation and execution of mutually acceptable definitive transaction agreements, and the satisfaction of customary conditions to be set forth in such agreements. We are prepared to move forward immediately with formal due diligence and the negotiation and execution of a definitive merger agreement and believe that with adequate access to the necessary information and people, we can complete both in approximately two weeks. We believe that our due diligence review can be completed with minimal disruption, requiring only limited access to a small number of senior executives of Take-Two and its legal, accounting and financial advisors. We also have prepared a draft merger agreement that we can forward to you immediately.

Our strong preference is to conduct a private negotiation. If you are unwilling to proceed on that basis, however, we may pursue other means, including the public disclosure of this letter, to bring our offer and the compelling value it represents to the attention of Take-Two's shareholders.

I am available to meet and discuss any and all aspects of this proposal with you and your Board. Again, we believe this proposal represents a unique opportunity to maximize value for Take-Two's shareholders, and that the combined enterprise would be extraordinarily well positioned to build value for our respective customers, employees, developers and other business partners. We hope that you and your Board share our enthusiasm, and we look forward to hearing back from you by February 22.

Sincerely,

John Riccitiello
Chief Executive Officer

 

Comments

The EA Borg empire is expanding...

YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED

[...] Bron: GamePolitics [...]

NOOOooooo GTA '09 will be just like GTA IV but with a new improved QB Cam!!!

Shareholders:

Just say NO!

You will make more money if you wait for GTAIV to come out!

GTA games are made by Rockstar, not Take-Two.... correct? Isn't Take-Two just the publisher?

If what I'm saying is true, R* could just start publishing their own games.

[...] Source: Gamepolitics.com digg_url = 'http://sarcasticgamer.com/wp/index.php/2008/02/ea-clumsily-attempts-takeover-of-take-two.html'; digg_title = 'EA Clumsily Attempts Takeover of Take Two'; digg_bodytext = ''; digg_topic = ''; Random Sarcastic Gamer Articles, selected just for you! [...]

[...] Social Media, Web 2.0: A blog analysis « Toronto: PodCamps and Tuesdays Thoughts on EA’s Bid to Acquire Take Two February 26, 2008 So EA made a 2 billion move to acquire Take-Two. I’m not quite sure whatto make out of this so here some thoughts about the parties concerned: [...]

[...] The EA-Take Two saga roundup Posted in Business by Alex King on February 26th, 2008 at 23:23 As most of you have probably heard, EA recently attempted a hostile takeover of Take Two. Take Two refused the offer, and the past few days have been a flurry of analysis and news tidbits on the matter. Behind the jump lies our humble attempt to compile a comprehensive look at the topic as it stands today. [...]
 
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