Electronic Arts to buy Glu Mobile, maker of Kardashian game
Electronic Arts Inc., maker of the Madden football video games, agreed to buy rival Glu Mobile Inc. for $2.1 billion, obtaining titles like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood amid a surge in at-home play during the pandemic.
Electronic Arts will pay $12.50 a share for Glu Mobile, according to a statement Monday. That's a 33% premium over the closing price of $9.39 in New York. Chinese giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. owns a 12.2% stake in the company.
“Mobile continues to grow as the biggest gaming platform in the world, and with the addition of Glu's games and talent, we're doubling the size of our mobile business,” Andrew Wilson, chief executive officer of Redwood, City-California-based Electronic Arts, said in the statement.
Glu is known for its free-to-play games, such as the Kardashian title, in which players join the celebrity on the red carpet as an aspiring celebrity and rise to fame and fortune. Its other titles let players do everything from interior design to playing baseball to cooking.
Game play has exploded with people trapped at home by the coronavirus, boosting growth for companies like Electronic Arts. They've supplemented that with acquisitions of rival companies and game studios.
Shares of Glu Mobile rose as high as $13.53 in extended trading before retreating to $12.52, suggesting some investors believe a higher bid could be coming. Glu Mobile agreed to pay a termination fee of $78.9 million if the deal isn't completed. Shares of rival Zynga Inc. rose as much as 13% following the purchase news, as investors speculated on other possible targets in the industry.
Electronic Arts is coming off another takeover agreement, its $1.2 billion deal for Codemasters Group Holdings Plc, in December. In that transaction, the company topped an earlier offer from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. Codemasters, based in London, is known for its racing games.
The purchase of Glu Mobile will add more than $500 million in annual sales for EA, where revenue totaled $5.67 billion over the past 12 months. Shares of Electronic Arts declined last week after the company's fourth-quarter forecast fell short of estimates. Glu Mobile had more than $300 million in cash on its balance sheet at the end of the third quarter and no debt.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised Electronic Arts, while Glu Mobile was advised by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and UBS Group AG.
The agreement “seems fair,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in an email. The price for Glu Mobile “is just above the high a couple of years ago. EA gets good franchises and a solid pipeline and needed the help. I think it's a good match and think it was smart for EA to use its cash to buy operating assets.”
But another analyst questioned how much of a difference Glu Mobile's intellectual property would make.
“It seems like a solid financial transaction, but I don't know that it's very exciting from a strategic standpoint,” said Doug Clinton, of Loup Ventures. “I think we are entering a phase of IP consolidation in gaming, and in my opinion there are other companies with more exciting IP.”
By Olga Kharif