Electronic Arts is reportedly looking for a buyer and has had discussions with Disney, Amazon, Apple and Comcast-NBCUniversal. According to unnamed sources in a report by news site Puck, conversations have progressed the most with NBCUniversal, but talks have “collapsed over the past month,” the report said.
Rather than an acquisition, Comcast-NBCUniversal President Brian Roberts reportedly approached EA CEO Andrew Wilson with the suggestion that NBCUniversal be spun off and merged with EA. The resulting company would have been majority-owned by Roberts but led by Wilson, but the proposal fell apart “due to disagreements over price and structure”.
An EA spokesperson told Puck that they would not comment on “M&A rumors and speculation.” “M&A” is the abbreviation for mergers and acquisitions.
The last few years have seen a wave of consolidation within the video game industry. This includes tech giants like Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, big publishers like Take-Two buying mobile giant Zynga for $12.7 billion, and corporate-backed holding companies. investors like Embracer Group, which now owns 124 studios and added Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal earlier this month. Electronic Arts has also been active, buying Codemasters for $1.2bn (about £960m) last year.
Electronic Arts was reportedly “persistent” in pursuing a sale, according to the report, and “has only become emboldened in the wake of the Microsoft-Activision deal.”
It seems likely that there will be other major transactions in the near future. Last February, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a quarterly call to investors that the French publisher “can remain independent”, but if there was a takeover offer, “the board of administration would of course review it for the benefit of all stakeholders”. There have since been reports that several private equity firms are interested.