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Take-Two ‘disappointed’ to have lost out on Codemasters buyout to EA

CEO Strauss Zelnick comments on failed takeover bid

The boss of Take-Two has expressed his disappointment at missing out on the chance to acquire Codemasters.

Rockstar owner Take-Two tabled an offer to purchase Codemasters, which was originally accepted before EA trumped it with a $1.2 billion bid.

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick discussed the failed bid for the UK-based company behind the F1, Dirt and Grid racing series during his firm’s third quarter earnings call on Monday.

“We lost the Codemasters deal to our friends out west,” he said. “That was disappointing but reflects our discipline in such matters.”

Codemasters shareholders voted to approve the company’s sale to EA in early February, with the deal expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

EA said on Monday that it’s to acquire Glu Mobile for $2.1 billion in enterprise value, while Embracer Group announced this month that it is to spend up to $1.4 billion buying Gearbox Entertainment, whose Borderlands series is released by Take-Two publishing label 2K.

Looking at the current industry trend for consolidation, Zelnick said “pricing can be pretty heady” and that Take-Two will stick to an approach that has previously served the company well.

“To date, we have yet to make an acquisition that hasn’t worked out,” he said. “We’re looking for great teams, great intellectual property, and for an arrangement that would be accretive to shareholder value.

“We’ll look for that, and at times aggressively, but we have a firm grasp on our hand calculator in one hand and on our approach, strategy and tactics on the other.”

EA’s Codemasters deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021

On Monday’s earnings call, Zelnick called Gearbox a studio that’s “near and dear to our hearts” and said the two companies will continue to work together post acquisition.

“We’re grateful that we’ll still be in business with Gearbox and they’ll still be working with us on Borderlands and other titles,” he said.

Zelnick was also asked about the potential for remastering older Grand Theft Auto games after Take-Two announced that GTA V has shipped 140 million copies.

“It’s a great and encouraging question,” he responded. “I’m kind of inclined to leave it more as a statement than a question and any update on our release schedule will come from Rockstar Games.”

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