Aussie question delaying GameStop move on GAME

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GameStop does want to buy GAME, but it doesn't want the chain's Oz business.

If our sources are to be believed, the US giant hasn't actually lost interest in UK retail as it told MCV last year.

But it doesn't want to double up Down Under by owning both GAME Australia and its own EB chain in Oz.

GameStop runs 6,627 stores in 17 territories – including the Aussie EB Games outlets it took over following the 2005 merger with Electronics Boutique.

Nose-tapping publisher execs this week told MCV that it's widely known GameStop is looking at Europe”, specifically UK and Spanish regions where GAME is market leader.

GameStop would not be drawn on these claims, with a representative telling MCV: As per our policy, we do not comment on market speculation or rumour.”

While GAME regained some industry confidence after a supplier summit, it's no surprise games execs are hoping the GameStop colossus will boost the flagging UK retail market.

GameStop's financial health is a huge contrast to GAME's. The US retail giant has no debt, and recorded Christmas trading of over $3bn for the nine weeks ending December 31st.

GAME, meanwhile, said it would likely report an 18m loss in April, and is reviewing its international operation. It faced a credit insurance crisis three weeks ago, is now cutting head office staff, has ditched its Gameplay online brand, and plans to close another 35 outlets as it works towards reducing the store count to 550.

Last month, GameStop did shut down its three remaining shops in Northern Ireland and 16 in Portugal.

At the time it said this was part of natural consolidation plans as emphasis switched to online, but now trade figures think this was a step towards shaping up for an acquisition and integration.

But that Aussie clash would remain a sticking point and could scupper any deal.

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