Publisher extends deadline to June 16

Electronic Arts just won’t give up on Take-Two.

The vidgame publisher has extended its hostile takeover bid for a second time while simultaneously starting formal negotiations with management.

EA on Monday said it has extended its tender offer for all shares of the “Grand Theft Auto” publisher to June 16. After an original deadline of April 18 had passed, EA extended the deadline to last Friday.

As of May 16, only 8% of Take-Two shareholders had accepted EA’s $25.74 per-share offer, which totals $2 billion. That’s no surprise, since the stock has recently been trading at close to $27 following “GTA IV’s” boffo bow. Game grossed more than $500 million in its first week on sale.

Publisher also recently closed a deal with Universal to turn its game “Bioshock” into a film, with Gore Verbinski attached to direct (Daily Variety, May 9).

Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick confirmed that his management team has begun formal discussions with several potential suitors, as he had promised they would do following “GTA IV’s” release on April 29. He had refused to enter into any talks until the game went on sale.

It’s believed that EA is one of the companies in talks with Take-Two. Zelnick previously indicated that some traditional media companies have been reaching out about a potential partnership or acquisition as well.

Take-Two CEO Ben Feder reiterated his recommendation that shareholders reject the current offer.

“The small number of shares tendered into EA’s offer to date demonstrates that our stockholders agree with what our board has maintained from the beginning: EA’s proposal undervalues our company,” he said in a statement.

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