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Ubisoft poised for Eidos buyout

After several years of wrangling, it appears French publisher Ubisoft is about to make a successful takeover bid of Britain last great independent, Eidos Interactive.

Ubisoft is apparently close to sealing a £215 million deal that will see it take over British publisher Eidos.

Senior Ubisoft executives are believed to have spent the last week at Eidos's offices in London thrashing out the final stages of the bid, which has now been in the works for over two years.

Eidos shares rose 7 per cent at the news on Monday morning, although an afternoon price of £1.16 remains a far cry from the £1.84 value in May this year. Analysts are basing the company's £215 million value at a price of £1.50 per share.

Ubisoft has long been in negotiations with Eidos. The president of the French publisher, Yves Guillemot, admitted as long ago as E3 in 2002 that talks were underway with the Tomb Raider parent.

Mike McGarvey, Eidos CEO, is now believed to be attracting investment for a MBO in a last ditch effort to fight off the French, although investors remain stunned by three profit warnings in 2004 alone.

Eidos's fortunes have been less than stellar of late, following a catastrophic next generation showing for Lara in Angel of Darkness - a game so poorly received and so lately delivered that Core Design was stripped of development rights - and a baleful set of sales figures for Hitman 2, despite the success of the first game.

A successful completion of the move by Ubisoft will see one of the last British independent games publisher swallowed up, leaving SCi Games and a few scattered smaller rivals. Eidos has struggled to compete with larger brethren for many years, and took a heavy knock from the critical panning of Angel of Darkness.

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