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EA and Take Two: Delayed Again

ea delayedEA first went public with their offer to buy Take Two Interactive in February.  In March,  they escalated things to hostile.   In the months following it’s been much of the same back and forth: EA spokespeople say their price is “fair” and a “substantial premium.”  Take Two says the offer “significantly undervalues” the company.  Both sides created websites.  EA issues ultimatums and sets deadlines, Take Two fires back.  The dialog is mostly the same, as are the terms.  Only the deadlines change.  Most recently it was June 3rd. Then that deadline was extended to June 16th.  June 16th passed uneventfully.  Now, on Tuesday, Electronic Arts announced a fourth extension.  Now, the new deadline on EA’s tender offer to buy Take Two Interactive will lapse July 18th.   

Will this new date be final?  Or will the scheduling snafus continue?  The answers may hinge partly on regulatory issues.   The FTC has been looking into anti-trust issues relating to the deal and is “particularly interested” in the possible combination of EA’s sports division with Take Two’s  2K Sports label.  Combined, the two game development teams would account for more than 50% of the world’s console sports titles.

To satisfy the FTC, and remove the regulatory hurdle from the equation, EA agreed in June to voluntarily hold off on merger activities until the FTC was finished.  Per the terms of the related SEC filing, they said they would accept a quiet period of 45 days.  After that time EA said they would resume their pursuit.  July 18th is that final day. 

There is one possible snag – Take Two is refusing to provide the FTC with all documents they’ve requested.  The FTC’s legal staff says Take Two reneged on agreements and is stalling.   Take Two says they have provided more than 300k pages of material and have already spent more than $1m providing “enormous quantities of data and access to key executives.”  They claim the FTC’s further demands are too broad and too expensive.

A hearing is set for June 24th in U.S. District Court.  Take Two will oppose the FTC’s position if no agreement is reached.

Metue will be back in the next couple days with a deeper look at the hostile takeover – and an updated Deal Diary and time line.  Stay Tuned.

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