Games giant EA gatecrashes £725m Codemasters takeover


The American computer games giant Electronic Arts (EA) has gatecrashed the £725m takeover of Codemasters, the London-listed producer of some of the world’s most popular motor racing titles.

Sky News has learnt that EA has tabled a potentially knockout bid for Codemasters, trumping an offer agreed last month with Take-Two Interactive Software, maker of the Red Dead franchise.

A gaming industry source said this weekend that EA was working with bankers at UBS on its offer.

The interest from EA, which has a market value of almost $40bn (£30bn), is likely to be disclosed to the stock market on Monday morning.

EA is among the world’s biggest computer games developers, and is best-known for its FIFA-licensed football titles, as well as games based on the Harry Potter books and Star Wars films.

The value of EA’s offer was unclear, although it is likely to be at a substantial premium to Codemasters’ closing share price on Friday of 534p.

It is not certain whether Take-Two, whose market capitalisation is roughly half the size of EA’s, will respond with a counterbid.

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Take-Two’s offer was a combination of cash and shares, meaning that the precise value of the proposals fluctuates according to changes in its own stock price in New York.

Some fund managers who own Codemasters shares have reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the Take-Two deal because of its equity component and the comparatively modest premium it represented to the British company’s undisturbed share price.

A Codemasters spokesman declined to comment, while EA could not be reached for comment.

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