EA and Take-Two give up on merger talks

After taking a good peak inside the kimono of Take-Two Interactive, Electronic Arts has decided to turn its back on its six-month effort to buy the publisher of “Grand Theft Auto IV.”

EA said in a statement that it had high regard of Take-Two but after reviewing Take-Two’s management presentation on its future plans and other due diligence materials, it decided not to acquire Take-Two. EA had previously offered $2 billion to buy Take-Two.

Take-Two said in a statement that it remains actively engaged in other discussions about its strategic alternatives. Take-Two, which has sold more than 10 million copies of GTA IV, said that its business has expanded during the takeover battle.

This deal was mainly about coming to terms on the value of the GTA franchise and Take-Two’s upcoming games. Take-Two has outperformed analyst expectations, but GTA IV has not exceeded the wildest expectations for sales. That is probably why the pair couldn’t agree on price. Take-Two has always wanted a significant premium on its stock, while EA didn’t want to over-pay.

Now EA’s strategy of the past 18 months is going to get its test. The company has launched “Spore” and has a total of 15 new games coming in the next six months. If those games are hits, John Riccitiello, chief executive of EA, will look like a hero. Take-Two, meanwhile, has to start launching games that show it’s more than a one-trick pony.

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