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EA Walks Away from Take-Two Takeover

Video game publisher Electronic Arts has formally terminated negotiations to take over controversial Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive…after getting a look at Take-Two’s future project plans and due diligence materials disclosed as part of the companies’ negotiations. The announcement sent the price of Take-Two shares plunging, as potential investors had been looking forward to a payday with an EA acquisition.

“After careful consideration, including a management presentation and review of other due diligence materials provided by Take-Two Interactive Software, EA has decided not to make a proposal to acquire Take-Two and has terminated discussions with Take-Two,” the company said in a brief statement.

Electronic Arts made a $2 billion unsolicited offer to buy out Take-Two in February this year; although the company kept extending the deadline on the offer hoping to line up more shares, ultimately the majority of Take-Two shareholders stuck with Take-Two CEO and current management and rejected the offer as inadequate. EA had no doubt been hoping to acquire Take-Two before the blockbuster title Grand Theft Auto IV hit retailers, but warned investors that Take-Two’s stable of games and revenue potential after GTA IV‘s release wouldn’t be enough to sustain revenue levels. After the unsolicited takeover bid fell apart, the two companies entered negotiations about a possible acquisition.

“We remain focused on creating value for our stockholders and our consumers,” said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick in a statement responding to EA calling off negotiations. “We remain actively engaged in discussions with other parties in the context of our formal process to consider strategic alternatives. We’re especially proud of the success we’ve enjoyed over the past eighteen months and we remain confident in our ability to generate value for stockholders.”

Although Take-Two might be able to line up another buyer—Ubisoft has been mentioned by some industry watchers—the fact that EA walked away after due diligence disclosure might create some obstacles and result in offers even lower than whatever EA had put on the table.