EA in 'late stage' discussions to buy PopCap?

Following rumors of a $1 billion buyout, TechCrunch fingers Electronic Arts as the suitor vying for the casual gaming publisher.

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Source: See below.

What we heard: Yesterday evening, TechCrunch reported that casual game publisher PopCap Games was the subject of a $1 billion buyout. The AOL-owned technology blog listed three potential suitors: an unnamed Asian game company, Facebook game titan Zynga, or traditional megapublisher Electronic Arts.

Early this morning, TechCrunch narrowed the list of suspects to one--EA. Citing two unnamed sources close to the deal, the blog says that the Redwood City, CA-based company is in "late stage acquisition discussions" to buy the Bejeweled and Peggle creator, which is based in Seattle, WA.

EA is reportedly the suitor willing to pay over $1 billion for PopCap.
EA is reportedly the suitor willing to pay over $1 billion for PopCap.

PopCap's purchase price reportedly remains "a sum of over $1 billion"--some 13 percent of EA's entire market capitalization. TechCrunch's sources say the high price stems from EA's eagerness to expand its presence in the casual gaming space, with the move being described as a "Hail Mary pass." Investors are already wary of the deal, with EA's share price slipping nearly 4 percent as of press time.

If it comes to pass, EA's PopCap buyout would mark the latest casual game acquisition by the publisher. In November 2009, the company scooped up Facebook game publisher Playfish in a deal worth up to $400 million. Then, in October 2010, it netted Angry Birds publisher Chillingo--but not its developer, Rovio--for $20 million.

The official story: As of press time, EA had not responded to GameSpot's requests for comment on the report.

Bogus or not bogus?: Looking increasingly not bogus.

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