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EA to acquire Dirt developer Codemasters, scuppering Take-Two deal

UPDATE: EA has agreed to purchase Dirt developer Codemasters in a deal that values the UK studio at roughly $1.2 billion.

EA has agreed to purchase Dirt developer Codemasters in a deal that values the UK studio at roughly $1.2 billion.

The purchase is notable for a number of reasons, not least because it comes just weeks after Take-Two announced it would acquire Codemasters for approximately $994 million. 

As the time, Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick explained the studio's racing portfolio would be "highly complementary" to its range of sports franchises, and indicated the deal would be completed by the first quarter of 2021. 

EA, however, has scuppered those plans at the last minute, gatecrashing the Take-Two deal with an offer of its own that has now been accepted by the Codemasters board. 

Like Take-Two, EA said it's keen to leverage Codemasters' various racing franchises, which includes Formula One, Dirt, Project Cars, Grid, and Dirt Rally, and combine them with its own series and brands.

The U.S. publisher also suggested it can help "accelerate Codemasters' performance by leveraging its deep expertise in live service operations, game analytics, and technology," while also granting the UK studio access to its central service teams across development technology, art and motion, quality verification, and more. 

The company's overall mandate will be to strengthen Codemasters' existing capabilities while expanding the market for its franchises. As such, the studio's existing management team, including CEO Frank Sagnier and CFO Rashid Varachia, will continue to lead the business post-acquisition. 

"We believe there is a deeply compelling opportunity in bringing together Codemasters and Electronic Arts to create amazing and innovative new racing games for fans. Our industry is growing, the racing category is growing, and together we will be positioned to lead in a new era of racing entertainment," said EA chief exec Andrew Wilson. 

"We have admired Codemasters’ creative talent and high-quality games for many years. With the full leverage of EA’s technology, platform expertise, and global reach, this combination will allow us to grow our existing franchises and deliver more industry-defining racing experiences to a global fan base."

Update: Take-Two said it has noted the announcement by EA, and is now "considering its position" in relation to Codemasters.

In a brief statement, the company said it will make another announcement to clarify its position "when appropriate," but at the time of writing Codemasters seems keen to push ahead with the EA deal. 

"Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. today noted the announcement by Codex Games Limited, an indirect subsidiary of Electronic Arts Inc. of a firm intention to make an offer for Codemasters Group Holdings plc at 604 pence in cash for each Codemasters share held and the announcement by the Board of Codemasters to change its recommendation from the acquisition of Codemasters by Take-Two in favor of the Electronic Arts Offer," reads the Take-Two statement.

"Take-Two is considering its position in relation to Codemasters and a further announcement will be made when appropriate."

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