Electronic Arts Trying To Buy A Resistant Take-Two

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The Board of Directors of Take-Two Interactive on Friday rejected a bid of $26 per share from Electronic Arts to buy the company, which would have amounted to about $2 Billion in cash. Undaunted, EA on Monday took their offer directly to Take-Two's investors, saying that with the company trading at $15.83 per share as of Friday, that their offer of $26 is a good one.

"There can be no certainty that in the future EA or any other buyer would pay the same high premium we are offering today," EA chief executive John Riccitiello said in a Feb. 19 letter to Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick that was made public yesterday.

But Zelnick said in an interview that the offer greatly undervalues Take-Two interactive, saying that at the end of April Grand Theft Auto IV is scheduled to be released, and based on prior performance of that series, should vastly improve Take-Two's value. Zelnick said he would be willing to talk with EA executives only after GTAIV is released.

"The company is still in the midst of rebuilding in a growth industry, and we have the biggest release in the industry coming," Zelnick said. "EA has been clear about its growth appetite."

But things are not all rosy at Take-Two, which hasn't reported an annual profit since 2005. GTAIV itself has been delayed from its original October release date, causing it to miss the all-important holiday buying season. And Take-Two's Manhunt 2 game was banned for sale in Great Britain and pulled from Target stores for being too violent. It was also given only lukewarm reviews.

EA may be trying to hold onto its spot as the top game company in the world, a position which may be in jeopardy once Activision and Vivendi complete their merger.

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