Source: A report from the Reuters news service.
What we heard: Ever since the Hot Coffee scandal gut-punched Take-Two Interactive's earnings, rumors of its potential sale have smoldered. The fires of speculation flared up again in March, when a shareholder revolt ousted the company's board. Following the putsch, the company's annual shareholder meeting was delayed so the new board could "evaluate alternative courses of action that could potentially be presented to the shareholders, including a possible sale of the company."
Though no sale offer was proffered at the shareholder meeting, the subsequent months have seen Take-Two's fortunes flag further. In June, its controversial snuff/stealth action game Manhunt 2 was banned in the UK and given an AO for Adults Only rating by the ESRB--a rating that would prevent its release on any console. (A revised version has since been rerated M for Mature and released in North America, although the game remains forbidden in Great Britain.) Then in August, the unthinkable happened: Grand Theft Auto IV was delayed until early 2008, which upended Take-Two's already precarious finances and sparked further takeover talk.
The official story: However, leading the new executive team is chairman Strauss Zelnick, a Harvard-educated former CEO of BMG Entertainment and Tomb Raider: Legend developer Crystal Dynamics (now an Eidos Interactive subsidiary.) Today, speaking with Reuters, Zelnick flatly quashed any speculation that his junta plans on putting Take-Two on the auction block.
"I'm much more interested in growing the business than in selling it, to be clear," he told the Reuters Media Summit. "I imagine headcount will grow. This is a growth business. We are in growth mode." To that end, the publisher recently secured the option for $140 million in financing.
How will Take-Two grow, exactly? "From a specific point of view, what we find most compelling is building up our collection of our intellectual property," explained Zelnick, who held up best-selling critical darling BioShock as an example. He also saw the GTAIV delay as a positive, not a negative. "I believe Grand Theft Auto IV is going to be vastly better than expectations--vastly better--and that's hard to do when expectations are so high."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that Take-Two is on the market...right now. However, if GTAIV slips further or does not prove a best-seller (which is highly unlikely), that status could change.