EA plays hardball

-by Thomas Rasmussen

Electronic Arts (EA) officially walked away from its drawn-out $2bn takeover bid of Take-Two Interactive. The move knocked Take-Two’s shares back to the level they were before EA floated its interest. The stock drop evaporated more than $500m in shareholder value overnight. Take-Two has repeatedly said that EA is not the only company with a strategic interest in them. Given the haircut shareholders just underwent, we think they would be interested in more than cryptic statements at this point. Though Activision-Blizzard, UBISoft, Microsoft, and a few other companies could pull off the acquisition, the fact that none have stepped forward yet is most likely not a good sign for shareholders. Strauss Zelnick and Take-Two management might have overplayed its hand on this one.