Sega denies EA rumours, restates Sammy plan

And has reiterated the company’s plan to merge with Sammy in October. Although the statement, which denies outright that any approach has been made to Sega by or on behalf of EA, does not mention the rumoured interest in the company on the part of Microsoft, it’s adamant that the Sammy deal is still underway despite the vocal dissatisfaction of some investors with the plan, and it states that no formal proposals of any description are under consideration.

“We have not received any formal proposal on a capital alliance and no such issue has been discussed at our board meetings or our executive meetings,” says Sato-san in the plainly worded statement. “We will keep working, as our priority issue, on the ongoing talks with Sammy Corporation, which we announced on February 13.”

A number of analysts have postulated that the two American companies are not actually interested in Sega as a whole, with EA only wanting to buy out certain studios at the company which are strong in product areas in which EA has little presence, while Microsoft would not be interested in taking on Sega’s significant arcade business. Such a split-up of the company is extremely unlikely to occur unless the Sammy merger deal falls through, leaving Sega in desperate financial straits.

It still seems likely that both EA and Microsoft are looking at possibilities regarding Sega, but we’ll be surprised if any formal offer is tabled by either company. Both have considered purchasing the Japanese publisher in the past, and the forthcoming Sammy deal will effectively take Sega off the market, as the merged company will be too large (with a market capitalisation of around $4 billion) for any purchase to be justified to the American markets. EA and Microsoft are no doubt just taking a last look around at the merchandise before it disappears off the shelves for good.

Meanwhile, Sega’s newly reborn European publishing unit has announced that one of its first self-published titles in this territory will be Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, due to arrive on shelves here over the summer. Several other forthcoming Sega titles, including the eagerly anticipated Panzer Dragoon Orta on Xbox, remain covered by the company’s distribution agreement with Infogrames.