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Electronic Arts to Let Take-Two Offer Lapse

Video game publisher Electronic Arts said it will let its $2 billion buyout offer for smaller rival Take-Two Interactive Software expire Monday as it does not believe they can complete a deal before the holiday shopping season.

The news drove Take-Two shares down 5 percent, even though EA said the companies are still in talks on a potential deal after conversations between EA Chief Executive John Riccitiello and Take-Two Executive Chairman Strauss Zelnick over the weekend.

With no chance to add Take-Two's blockbuster "Grand Theft Auto" game to EA's game roster by the end of the third quarter, EA said it was taking a second look at its $25.74-per-share offer.

"That $25.74 was predicated on distributing their products at Christmas this year," EA spokesman Jeff Brown said.

"Going forward, we are challenged to validate that $25.74 price." EA, publisher of the popular "Madden" and "Need for Speed" games, first pursued a deal for Take-Two privately last December.

It announced an unsolicited offer of $26 a share in February.

It cut the bid to $25.74 a share in April because of the issuance of additional Take Two shares.

Take-Two has rejected EA's bid as too low but said it was open to a deal with EA or another company.

Take-Two's management will make a presentation to EA on its three-year product release schedule and financial projections, Zelnick said in a letter to Riccitiello on Sunday.

"The presentation also includes information about the underlying factors that have driven our strong operational and financial performance. I believe our presentation will enable you to understand better the value of our company to EA," Zelnick said in the letter.

EA said that as a result of the weekend talks, it will let its tender offer for all outstanding shares of Take-Two expire Monday evening.

EA previously extended the offer five times, in part to allow regulators time to review the deal for antitrust concerns, and after a lukewarm response from Take-Two shareholders.

Take-Two shares fell $1.23 to $23.61 in early Nasdaq trade.

The stock stood at around $17 in February, before EA's offer was announced.

EA shares were off 4 cents $48.20 on Nasdaq.

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