Wolves of Wall Street can sharpen M&A teeth on new game app

Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:00pm EST

* Game simulates cut and thrust of takeover battle

* Idea is to provide some escapist fun, CEO says

* European M&A sector in decline, but could see rebound

By Julia Fioretti

LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - A new app that its creators say allows players to simulate a major merger or acquisition deal, complete with all the drama and backstabbing but with none of the actual financial downside, became available on Thursday for iPhones and iPads.

"M&A Game" is said by its developer, the international data firm ansarada, to be the world's first mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A) game app. It aims to create all the thrills and cutthroat competition of a real takeover bid.

"M&A is usually a long and intensive process involving months of detailed work by everyone working on deals," Sam Riley, CEO of ansarada, said in a news release.

"We decided to design and build a game to provide some escapist fun for the whole M&A community, anywhere in the world."

Players can buy, sell and merge corporations across nine major industrial sectors with a team of investment bankers, accountants and lawyers. Deal-making tactics range all the way from flattery to haggling and bullying.

"We created it to be a fun escape, but also very competitive because people involved in M&A are pretty competitive by their nature," a spokesperson for ansarada said.

Players are asked to select from a range of qualities and attributes they think make a good M&A deal maker, including drive, charisma, strength, and even deception. The catch? You can't have all the qualities, so a savvy CEO will know which to prioritise.

Does the app herald a rebound for the largely dormant M&A sector?

European M&A was down nearly a quarter on last year to $511 billion but, with firms sitting on piles of excess cash, investors are now pushing them to snap up rivals.

"The corporate cut and thrust is certainly very much front and centre in the business world now," the spokesperson said. "It's very much back on the agenda." (Reporting By Julia Fioretti; Editing by Michael Roddy and Alister Doyle)