A battle between East and West looks set to decide the future of Eidos.
MCV understands that both Warner Bros and Square Enix are ready to mount rival acquisition bids this month for the ailing British publisher.
Although national press reports have fingered EA and Ubisoft as potential buyers, nose-tappers are backing Warner as the victor. It already owns 20 per cent of the Britsoft firm, and would only have to spend around $30m for a controlling interest. A spend of around $80m would give it total control, putting Eidos’ current market value at around $120m.
Eidos last month relaxed restrictions on Warner that would otherwise stop it buying more shares.
However, Square is making clear signals of serious interest. Global president Yoichi Wada has already visited Denmark’s IO Studio – Eidos’ developer of the Hitman franchise – and is set to return to the UK shortly to move the deal forward.
Our source said: I think Warners will still win, but it’s very interesting that Square have expressed this late interest. They are clearly looking for Western talent.”
Square Enix could opt to buy single assets – perhaps just IO and the Hitman brand. But shareholders looking to maximise value might prefer an all-or-nothing swoop.
The Tokyo firm has made no secret of its global aspirations. Just last week the company told MCV that this strategy is being driven by a new business development unit established by Western boss John Yamamoto. And whilst it has made significant in-roads with titles like Final Fantasy XII, the firm acknowledges it has few titles with Western appeal.
Eidos, on the other hand, has suffered significantly in the past 12 months, with its rocky year including a management cull, global studio restructuring and financial upheaval – with losses quadrupling and its share price losing over 90 per cent of its value.
Its key Q4 release, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Underworld, currently nestles at number seven in the GFK- ChartTrack All Formats Top 10.
Eidos products, however, cover a raft of genres with Western appeal. Its slate of studios and IP could well complement Square’s activity and plug the gaps in its line-up.