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Take-Two bids to buy Dirt 5 publisher Codemasters for $973.8 million

Take-Two Interactive Software has made a bid to buy Dirt 5 publisher Codemasters for $973.8 million.

Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two hasn’t completed a deal yet, but it has made an offer, and it confirmed an announcement by the board of directors of United Kingdom-based Codemasters about the bid. It’s another sign of consolidation in the game industry that seen huge deals this year.

The New York-based Take-Two, which owns labels and studios such as 2K to Rockstar Games, offered $6.40 a share to buy Codemasters, in both cash and stock. The deal is contingent on due diligence, approval by the board, and other approvals.

Take-Two said the combination would bring together two world-class interactive entertainment portfolios which are complementary. Codemasters is strong in the racing genre with titles like F1, Dirt, and Grid. Last year, Codemasters acquired Project Cars and Fast & Furious maker Slightly Mad Studios for $196 million. Take-Two’s strengths are action games, huge open worlds from Rockstar, sports, and strategy games like Civilization.

R.W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian noted that the offer would involve about $230 million in cash and $700 million in Take-Two stock, with the net offer roughly equivalent to $930 million in cash.

Take-Two has 6,000 employees, including 4,600 in-house developers. Most recently, Take-Two acquired Playdots, the mobile game publisher that created Two Dots, for $200 million in September.

Based in Southam, England, Codemasters has about 750 employees. In an earnings call yesterday, analysts quizzed Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick about the acquisition activity after Microsoft said it would acquire Bethesda owner ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion.

“We have seen an acceleration in M&A activity,” Zelnick said. “Obviously, Microsoft is acquiring Bethesda, which is a significant transaction. You’re going to continue to see increased M&A activity, just because of the heat around the category and capital that is being deployed by big companies. We have almost $2.4 billion in cash. We have no debt. We are anxious to build our business aggressively.”

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