Following on from today's announcement that Electronic Arts wants to acquire Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive, the folks at GameSpot have put some questions to EA's CEO, John Riccitiello.
He talks about why the publishing giant wants Take-Two, addresses concerns that have been raised about the culture clash that could arise in a merger, and how the deal relates to the imminent release of Grand Theft Auto IV.
"For us, it's all about their studios and their intellectual properties, which we very strongly desire to have as part of EA," said Riccitiello. "We think we would make a great home for their studios. Our decentralized label model is in many ways inspired by conversations I've had over the years with Sam Houser, who runs Rockstar."
"We think it's a great deal for their shareholders, it's at a huge premium," said Riccitiello. The US$2 billion offer would value Take-Two at US$26 a share, 64% higher than their share price at the date of the offer. "And as a stand-alone company, Take-Two has a series of operational and scale issues, legal issues, financial issues… We think their shareholders win in a huge way."
Take-Two has responded to EA's offer with its own press statement, where it claims the offer "substantially undervalues" the company. "EA's proposal fails to recognize the value we are building through our ongoing turnaround efforts, which will further revitalize Take-Two," explained chairman Strauss Zelnick. "While we have made substantial progress already, the turnaround of our business which we initiated in June is not yet complete, and we believe its benefits have not been recognized in either our current stock price or in the value of EA's proposal."
The company went on to call the offer "highly opportunistic", claiming that it is "attempting to take advantage of our upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto IV, one of the most valuable and durable franchises in the industry."
In the interview, EA's Riccitiello dismissed such claims, saying the deal would not be completed until after GTA IV is released. "The analysts that are forecasting Take-Two for just their fiscal year have between 8 million and 12 million units of GTA IV forecast," he said. "Frankly, the question is what comes after GTA, because that's already in the value of the stock. Realistically, we don't anticipate closing the deal before GTA ships. We're anticipating a transaction that would close certainly not before the GTA launch, so that feels very much like a red herring to me."
Read the full interview over at GameSpot.