Take-Two Stockholder Meeting On Live Webcast
Take-Two Interactive has announced it will be providing a live webcast of its upcoming Annual Stockholder Meeting.
The webcast will be listen-only, providing just the audio portion of the meeting, and does not constitute meeting attendance for legal purposes; stockholders who wish to vote at the meeting must attend in person or authorize a valid proxy. Physical space limitations mean that only stockholders of record who can show proof of ownership will be admitted to the meeting, being held at the W Hotel Union Square in New York City.
The meeting is noteworthy because of the ongoing struggle between Take-Two and Electronic Arts, which is attempting a takeover of the company. While Take-Two management has refused negotiations on the matter until after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, set for the end of April, some shareholders have expressed dissatisfaction with that decision. The two largest Take-Two stockholders, Oppenheimer Funds and FMR LLC, dramatically cut their holdings in the company in March, a move which was widely seen as weakening Take-Two's stance against the acquisition.
Take-Two's Annual Stockholder Meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. EST on April 17. For access to the webcast, visit Take-Two's investor relations site at ir.take2games.com.
Is this another one of those threads where I do my 'look, I have a qualification in business and economics and a slowly developing business; watch me roll!' post and no one else responds? Thought so.
I wasn't going to comment on this, until I noticed the line about Oppenheimer and FMR dramatically casting off earlier last month. Take-Two, as I understand, are an international PLC company; they gain funds by investors getting all hyped-up about them on the stock market. This isn't hard, especially if you happen to be producing some of the most popular videogames of this generation. Normally, such major account losses would be quickly dealt with by the start of the next month by willing investors willing to take up the difficult helm of getting phat rich off of TT. Notably, these sorts of newcomers would be coalitions of businesses, or small-time independent buyers hoping to make a quick few quid before GTA4 comes out and then selling their shares back to larger corporations, who believe in TT again since their stock price has increased.
All that makes sense, right? Big fish, little fish, cardboard box? Now throw a hostile faction in there and it all goes balls up. The reason why Oppenheimer et al have suddenly decided to get out, even on a brink of this generation's major release, is because they'd rather sell up than be caught out by the lawyers at EA. Then smaller enterprises don't wish to re-invest, because they run the bigger risk of being involved in the whole bureaucracy of a hostile takeover. This is also why a lot of Take-Two's current stakeholders (banks, companies and individuals/employees) just want the whole thing to be done and over. Certainly, as gamers we find it easy to go 'OMFG FITE DA OPPRESSHION!', but unless you all feel like raising enough money to challenge EA in court, then I certainly think its best we all stay out of it. An appeal against a hostile takeover takes time and finances. On the brink of a commercial release which will go gold in the first week hours, TT and their affiliates hardly have the vast amount of money needed to challenge it. Publishing on that scale costs a bomb, people, but it would probably cost more to go against EA - or even buy up all of their own stocks (which would ruin the entire point of being a PLC. to begin with!).
I'd just get the game out there to appease the masses, then engage in real, valid negotiations with EA. All of this mudslinging between developers is hardly the right way to do business; especially if some of your own shareholders are protesting.
I would imagine the "get the game out there and then hit the negotiating table" is exactly what Take-Two has in mind.
As far as the Oppenheimer/FMR sell-off goes, aren't the reasons for it less important (for our purposes, anyway) than the results, that is, a perceived lack of confidence in Take-Two's ability to fend of EA's advances?
(There, you got your response.)
Well, it would make the most sense. Yet Take-Two still have a huge backlash to contend with. We've seen the effect that GTA releases have had in the past, and they seem to cause nothing but controversy. From everything from kids attempting to buy the 18+ titles to the actual content of the games; all of these issues have always been handled politely by the combined efforts of the Rockstar and Take-Two publicity departments. Heck, its only through these delicate channels that both companies have managed to stay open. Certainly, financially it makes the most sense to do as both you and I have suggested, Mal: Get the game out there and the money in to appease both fans and shareholders. Now, assuming that acquisition would take place almost immediately after (we can assume so, judging by the meeting date), that means that all of these marketing teams may well be taken over by EA's own in-house advisers. This is where it gets interesting: How would EA deal with such an iffy company who produce very estranged (but popular!) goods? The only real recent example we've got of them dealing with controversy is that of the Mass Effect scandal, and even then it was only swayed by Jack Thompson's own claims that the news report was a piece of crap. EA may think they've made a lucrative investment, but perhaps (for such a major company with a clean record) they're taking on a bit of a big task by buying Take-Two who not only offer huge profits and a loyal community, but also spawn controversy like rabbits have kids.
You have to assume that EA is well aware of Take-Two's baggage, which is essentially everything Rockstar does. In fact, despite the obvious upsides to EA Sports in absorbing the only other sports game publisher on the market of any relevance, I'd go so far as to say the "baggage" is really the driving force behind EA's interest in the company. Rockstar is controversial as hell, but man do they sell product; and not only that, but they're an absolutely top-notch developer as well in terms of game quality and polish. Rockstar does not do things half-assed.
So in terms of what EA plans for Rockstar, there are really only two options: They're either going to take a heavy-handed approach and force them to dial it back to games that get easy T ratings, or they're going to suck it up and take the same pounding Take-Two does, on the assumption that the benefits will far outweigh the downsides. I really can't see it being the former; if you want Rockstar, you want Rockstar. Why lay down bazillions of dollars to acquire them if you're going to change them up anyway? It also tracks back to what Riccitiello has said recently about EA's dodgy record with studios it acquires, where he basically admitted that EA has blown some pretty big opportunities with some pretty big studios over the years because its monolithic structure just didn't allow for "outside the box" behaviour. (I hate that term but in this case it fits.) Assuming he's not blowing hot air, it could very well indicate that EA plans on a hands-off approach with Rockstar, something similar to the way Activision declared Blizzard to be untouchable after their merger with Vivendi.
A lot of people, myself included, think Take Two would've been better off playing nice with EA after the initial overture, but whether EA would've gone for that and held off attempting to take over until after GTA4 ships is hard to say. I rather doubt it, myself, but regardless, the situation is well past that point. I think that one way or another, we'll see some fairly fast and drastic moves made in this deal immediately after GTA4 hits. It's just a matter of whether EA turns up the deal, or kills it entirely.
One thing I don't get is, as you mentioned, Take2 Sports is the last sports company left for EA sports, so wouldn't the government do the whole monopoly card and stop it?
(Sorry, can you delete this one? My connection messed up on me.)
The government *might* be able to call the monopoly card on this due to the sports game issue. But EA can easily claim that nothing is stoppiung people from making non-NFL football games.
I could be off-base, but I don't think the US government would want to get wrapped up in anti-trust suits over a particular genre of videogame, especially since, as blackadvent pointed out, EA isn't doing anything to prevent other companies from making unlicensed sports games. Of course, that can lead us down the same path that says Microsoft isn't doing anything to prevent other developers from making other operating systems, but I don't think the scale is quite the same.
Too me the scale seems the same, but then again to the govt. it could be very different.