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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Rumour: EA Has Been Looking to Sell or Merge

Article is paywalled but some excerpts.

In recent years, as media companies have taken greater interest in the rapidly-growing gaming industry, Wilson and Electronic Arts have held talks with a number of different potential suitors, including Disney, Apple and Amazon, sources with knowledge of those talks told me. Several sources familiar with these talks say EA has been persistent in pursuing a sale, and has only grown more emboldened in the wake of the Microsoft-Activision deal. Others say that EA is primarily interested in a merger arrangement that would allow Wilson to remain as chief executive of the combined company

Meanwhile, another notable idea that has been bandied about among the Sun Valley set in recent years would see Disney spin off ESPN and combine it with Electronic Arts. As I reported last October, Bob Chapek came into his job more open than his predecessor to entertaining an ESPN spin off. There is also some notable history between these two companies. In early 2018, following the sudden resignation of ESPN chief John Skipper, then-Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger tried to recruit Wilson to be head of the sports network. Wilson passed, and the job went to Jimmy Pitaro.

Nevertheless, Wilson continues to eye a Disney tie-up: Electronic Arts approached Disney as recently as March in pursuit of what sources described as "a more meaningful relationship" than licensing deals—though it's not clear whether that meant an ESPN-EA tie-up, some sort of try-before-you-buy arrangement, or a direct sale. Whatever the case, Disney decided not to pursue those conversations. Indeed, the market seems so focused on Disney+'s subscriber growth, and Chapek has other important items on his grocery list, such as buying the enormously expensive rights to the Indian Premier League, the country's top cricket league, which is essential to its international strategy, and potentially buying Roberts out of Hulu in a few years.

As it turns out, Roberts saw this logic as well. In the wake of the Microsoft-Activision deal, Roberts approached Electronic Arts C.E.O. Andrew Wilson with a proposal to spin off NBCUniversal and merge the media and gaming giants, four sources with knowledge of the proposal told me. The general terms of the proposal, which lawyers and bankers for both sides negotiated for several weeks, would have seen the Roberts family take majority control of the combined entity. In the configuration most seriously discussed, the company would have been run by Wilson. If the deal went through on those terms, NBCUniversal C.E.O. Jeff Shell would likely have been elevated to another role at Comcast, one source with knowledge of the plans said. Shell was involved in deal discussions, I am told.

The proposal ultimately fell apart within the last month due to disagreements over price and structure.

For now, then, Electronic Arts remains a potential merger target for Roberts. And, as always in matters of M&A, it's possible that the two parties could come back to the table.



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Hmm really no mention of MS or Sony deals. Is that factual there are no talks or are those potential deals unknown perhaps? Probably depends on who's looking to acquire or merge. Those larger corporations, including MS (though after the AB deal is complete), very well could buy EA and just might want a buyout, but someone like Sony if interested, would likely prefer or require a merger since they may not be able to, or justify a buyout. Sony supposedly has a big deal that their keeping quiet about, but this seems big enough to be a long shot. MS also has been hinting that the AB deal has been moving along quickly, which they would want if they are in a bidding war to acquire EA.



Out of the listed potential acquisition-merger partners, I'd prefer Disney honestly. None of the 4 options are great, but Disney seems to have the most benefit for me (closer relationship for future Star Wars projects like the new Jedi series (Fallen Order and Survivor), and the new Star Wars FPS they are developing), with less drawbacks than the other 3. Comcast is just all around pure evil, while Amazon and Apple are both reportedly working on game consoles of their own, which could mean that some EA games would end up being locked exclusively to a 4th console entering an already crowded market, far from ideal.



Wouldn't mind any of those listed getting it and honestly wouldn't want Sony spending so much money on that or MS to get even more control over gaming. Hopefully one of those 4 gets it



I am Iron Man

ConservagameR said:

Hmm really no mention of MS or Sony deals. Is that factual there are no talks or are those potential deals unknown perhaps? Probably depends on who's looking to acquire or merge. Those larger corporations, including MS (though after the AB deal is complete), very well could buy EA and just might want a buyout, but someone like Sony if interested, would likely prefer or require a merger since they may not be able to, or justify a buyout. Sony supposedly has a big deal that their keeping quiet about, but this seems big enough to be a long shot. MS also has been hinting that the AB deal has been moving along quickly, which they would want if they are in a bidding war to acquire EA.

They've said it was moving pretty quickly, but that doesn't mean much for a deal they expect to close a year from now.



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Please no Disney, I’d like my Star Wars games away from EA, not being owned by the same company.



Guys, Disney didn't leave gaming development to now get back into it . I didn't they're entertaining the idea.



I just hope it isn't Disney or Amazon.. they seem to ruin everything they touch.. media wise. It would be horrible if Apple got them too, urgh.

Not sure what big conglomerate would be good fit for EA.



Microsoft likely can't with the Activision-Blizzard deal and Sony likely would have a tough time being able to fund it, they've not got the cash on hand for it so they'd have to either borrow a huge amount or do a big stock offer although a merger is unlikely but not impossible. We're talking about $50bn for the cost of EA with a 40% premium, I think EA knows this which is why they're talking to companies like Comcast, also, all the sports licenses would remain multiplatform.

Disney backed out cause they reportedly want to focus on Disney+ so that leaves Comcast who wants to merge EA with NBCUniversal, Apple and Amazon. I think we can rule out Google as they seem to have given up. Tencent could be interested but I doubt it would pass regulation, Tencent is already #1 in Gaming and being Chinese, I think they'll be some political stuff at play, they had a little issue acquiring even Sumo Digital.

CFIUS' approval was subject to Tencent and Sumo making "certain arrangements designed to mitigate the risks to the national security of the United States," although no further detail on this was given.

Comcast seems to want them but EA doesn't like the offer, all it takes is for Comcast to come back with a better one and it could very well end up that EA is merged with NBCUniversal...It does seem like EA wants a merger more than a full on sale and not every company would be okay with that, I don't see how Amazon/Apple do a merger with EA and likely want to outright acquire them but if EA is open to a full sale then it would be smart for Amazon to make a play as it gives them an entire gaming infrastructure overnight rather than the slow process of building one which they're currently doing.

Last edited by Ryuu96 - on 21 May 2022

After the falling out of grace of DICE with the Battlefield series, it feels like EA doesn't have much assets appart from the football games and Respawn to justify the prices of sales you guys are talking about.
Somethin' tells me they're the side of the equation asking too much which might've been the falling out of why those deals ultimately fell appart so far.



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