Despite Zelnick's protestations, however, there's still time for EA's bid to be successful: the offer expires at midnight on Friday, April 18th – today for those of you in the UK and tomorrow for our US readers – indicating the saga will not be fully done and dusted until then.
Speaking at his employer's annual shareholders meeting, Zelnick attacked EA’s "opportunism”, and said Take Two's rave reviews, creative team, sports portfolio and revitalisation plan put it in a “unique position” to increase its value.
“The Board and management strongly believes – as we did on February 24th – that EA’s offer is at the wrong price and still comes at the wrong time.”
He claimed that Take Two has the highest average games rating in the specialist press of any third-party publisher, including EA, and reminded investors that much of the firm’s property involves much fully-owned IP.
Directly appealing to shareholders, Zelnick said:
"Since the Board believes we are worth more than $26 a share, I urge all of our stockholders not to tender their shares at this price or at this time.”Zelnick would not name any other potential suitors that he had talked to, but confirmed that Take Two was prepared to begin discussions with interested parties on or after April 30th.He also declined to comment about the US Federal Trade Commission's investigation into any merger between the two companies.
Investors re-elected the current Board at the publisher by a 77 per cent majority at the meeting, whilst a controversial executive incentive package that will give management higher fees and additional shares - some of which will vest immediately in the event of a buyout - received 73 per cent backing.
EA spokesperson Jeff Brown told Reuters: "This can hardly be considered a show of shareholder confidence.
Following Zelnick's speech, EA has already spoken out to criticise Take Two’s decision to 'ban' newer shareholders from the meeting.
Zelnick's current shareholders were not allowed to vote on his pay package.”You can listen to Strauss Zelnick’s speech in full here.