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EA and DICE announce new merger plan

DICE's board of directors is once again recommending that shareholders accept an offer from Electronic Arts for their outstanding interest in the Swedish game developer.

Electronic Arts' protracted attempts to acquire Swedish developer Digital Illusions CE appear to have moved a step closer to realisation today with the announcement that DICE's board of directors has unanimously agreed on a joint merger plan with Electronic Arts EA Holding AB.

The deal offers shareholders a consideration of SEK 67.50 per share (7.22 Euro at current conversion rates) to be paid in cash and represents a premium of 30 per cent.

This latest attempt on the two companies' part to join forces is still subject to shareholder approval at the company's Annual General Shareholders Meeting on May 24th. Last time, a deal offer was rejected by shareholders representing 28 per cent of the firm's stock - despite recommendation from the board of directors that they accept the deal - on the grounds that SEK 61 was not a fair valuation and that remaining independent was a more attractive option.

The board of directors says that the deal announced today will "safeguard" DICE's future as a game developer, as well as helping the company transition to next-generation platforms by guaranteeing access to EA's technology, tools and financial resources - something that the current part-ownership situation precludes.

"The merger resolves a stifling and complex situation while at the same time safeguarding DICE's position as a leading-edge game developer in a global and increasingly competitive environment," DICE chairman Thomas Skoglund said in a statement.

DICE's board once again recommends shareholders accept the deal on the grounds that the current situation prevents access to certain resources and "will in the long term make it difficult for DICE to retain and attract talented employees".

The two companies are currently enjoying ongoing success with DICE's Battlefield brand - with Battlefield 2 widely acclaimed on PC, several expansions either available or in the works, and console spin-offs released on multiple formats.

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