An EA merger with Take-Two gets U.S. antitrust OK

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. antitrust authorities would approve a combination of Electronic Arts Inc with rival video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software, according to letters from the Federal Trade Commission posted on the agency’s web site.

On Monday, Electronic Arts Inc said it would allow its hostile $2 billion bid for rival video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc to expire and instead pursue private talks with the company.

In separate letters to the two companies dated August 18, the FTC said it had conducted an investigation of a merger of the companies.

“Upon further review of this matter, it now appears that no additional action by the commission is warranted at this time. Accordingly, the investigation has been closed,” the letters said.

Shares of Electronic Arts were 2.3 percent higher to $47.48 in late morning trading, while Take-Two stock rose 4 percent to $23.99, both on Nasdaq. Take-Two shares had stood at around $17 in February, just before EA’s first offer was announced.

EA said on Monday its chief executive, John Riccitiello, and Take-Two Executive Chairman Strauss Zelnick held talks over the weekend, and Take-Two’s management has agreed to present its three-year product pipeline and financial forecasts to EA.

EA, publisher of the popular “Madden,” “Need for Speed” and “Rock Band” games, had offered $25.74 per share in April for Take-Two, which rejected the price as too low.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn