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"Very strong interest" in Free Radical Design sale

Tue 06 Jan 2009 11:25am GMT / 6:25am EST / 3:25am PST
BusinessDevelopment

Administrator considers whole or part sale for Haze studio as January deadline looms

Administrator ReSolve Partners has told GamesIndustry.biz that it's hopeful of a sale for troubled development studio Free Radical Design.

ReSolve expects to be able to make a decision on the future of the business this month, after receiving interest from games companies and investors worldwide.

"At this stage interest has been very strong," offered Cameron Gunn, of ReSolve Partners.

"We're advertising the business and assets for sale and there's been some significant interest expressed from all over the world, so we're now in the process of exploring that interest.

"The sale process itself will take a few weeks to run through, so we are thinking at this stage probably towards the end of January we should be in a better position to know whether or not we've got a decent sale - mid to late January," he added.

While ReSolve is striving to sell the business as a whole, Gunn has said that the company will consider splitting up and selling Free Radical assets separately if it will generate more money.

"Over the course of the next ten days we should get a clear idea of the level of interest, what companies are interested in. And we're very hopeful at this stage that we will sell the business and assets as a going concern in one lump sum.

"If we can sell all of that in one hit that would be fabulous. It may be that we're made offers for several parts of the business, which when added together total up more than one whole sale to one other interested party. But it's early days, we're not too sure yet, but if we can save more jobs we'd be delighted, and that's what we're aiming to do at this stage," detailed Gunn.

Free Radical Design IP includes Haze, Second Sight and TimeSplitters, and the company has been very vocal in the past that intellectual property is the key to keeping independent studios afloat.

Companies thought to be interested in buying Free Radical Design or at least some of its assets include Monumental Games, the Kuju Entertainment group and original Second Sight publisher Codemasters. Both Monumental and Codemasters recently picked up parts of another Midlands-based developer, Swordfish Studios.

As detailed before Christmas, around 40 staff still remain at Free Radical Design, although no projects are currently signed with any publishers.

"It's pretty much business as usual as far as we're continuing to trade the business in a smaller format.

"Unfortunately last week we had to make a hard decision to let 140-odd staff go. At least they were paid up until the end of December but I know that's still not going to put a big smile on their faces and the timing was unfortunate, but it needed to be done," said Gunn.

While jobs look safe for the rest of the month at least, Gunn said that ultimately the decision to keep the company treading water lies with ReSolve, reiterating that the prospects of a sale are good for the company as it enters its tenth year.

"It depends entirely on the circumstances, but ultimately it's my decision whether or not I continue to keep the doors open, paying rent, utilities and of course the staff, as long as I think there's a reasonable prospect of a sale - and at this stage there very much is."

He also added that he was impressed with the level of support the ailing developer has received from the UK industry since going into administration.

"One of the most pleasing things about this job has been the level of support from across the industry, even from those unfortunate employees we had to make redundant.

"It's testament to the company, its history, the way it's done business and its philosophy, and of course the staff. And if we can save some of the employees jobs out there we'll be really happy."

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