Videogame company makes offer for rival

Vidgame publisher Electronic Arts said Sunday it is making an all-cash $2 billion offer for rival Take-Two Interactive Software, best known for its “Grand Theft Auto” franchise.

The offer amounts to $26 per share. Take-Two shares closed at $17.36 on Friday.

EA said it was releasing details of the proposal to get the attention of Take-Two shareholders after Take-Two’s board turned down its second bid in two weeks.

The offer represents a 64% premium over Take-Two’s closing stock price of $15.83 on Feb. 15, the last trading day before Redwood City-based EA made its proposal.

“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 wrote in a letter to Take-Two released Sunday.

Riccitiello added that Take-Two’s quick acceptance of the offer would mean EA could put its marketing muscle behind the eagerly awaited release of “Grand Theft Auto IV,” set for April 29.

In its response, Take-Two called the EA offer a “highly opportunistic” attempt to take advantage of the game’s upcoming release.

“Electronic Arts’ proposal provides insufficient value to our shareholders and comes at absolutely the wrong time,” Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick said in a statement Sunday.

Zelnick said EA rejected Take-Two’s offer to resume discussions of the takeover bid the day after “Grand Theft Auto IV” hit store shelves.

EA said it offered $26 per share Tuesday after Take-Two rejected a $25-per-share bid earlier this month.

The offer comes as Take-Two works to regroup following a rocky year. Shareholders threw out most of the company’s top leadership last spring over poor results as well as accounting troubles and controversy surrounding violent and sexual content in the company’s games.

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