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EA's Take-Two deadline looms

Take-Two's stockholder meeting to take place later today, as EA's USD 26 per share tender offer expires tomorrow night

The continuing saga between Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive will move forward at least one step in the next 48 hours, with the latter company's stockholder meeting taking place today, April 17, at 6:30pm EDT, and EA's tender offer of USD 26 per share for its stock expiring at 11:59pm EDT tomorrow, April 18.

Take-Two announced yesterday that no proposals had been submitted for the annual meeting, at which investors will vote on a plan to award Take-Two's management company, ZelnickMedia, 1.5 million shares.

So far it's unclear what level of support there is among investors for Strauss Zelnick's plans for Take-Two, or indeed how many investors are leaning towards selling their shares to EA - although the Wall Street Journal indicates that a number of institutional shareholders in Take-Two significantly reduced their holdings in the company following the rejection of EA's offer.

Should Take-Two shareholders approve the plans to award shares to ZelnickMedia, EA has stated that it will dilute existing holdings by around USD 0.26 per share, and although its offer expires officially just over 24 hours following the stockholder meeting, EA reserves the right to extend the offer period, or increase the offer.

A number of analysts have indicated to in the past that they believe a deal will go ahead at some point, possibly for as much as USD 30 per share.

But if nothing else is decided, by this weekend it will be clear in which direction Take-Two stockholders are leaning - if they accept Strauss Zelnick's stock plans, and the EA offer expires with no major announcements, the ball will be back in EA's court.

If that happens then EA will likely either walk away from the deal, or increase its offer - but with Zelnick currently refusing the negotiate until after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, due out on April 29, and with the company predicting sales in the first week of USD 400 million, Take-Two's position will be strengthened by that time.

Take-Two's share price has risen by around 50 per cent since EA made its original offer to close yesterday at USD 26.09.

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