Infogrames Buys Accolade

It's official: Europe's biggest publisher moves in to acquire US developer and publisher Accolade.

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As reported by GameSpot News last Wednesday, Infogrames Entertainment S.A., based in Lyons, France, announced Monday morning that it will acquire San Jose, Calif.-based developer and publisher Accolade Inc.

Financial details regarding the acquisition were not disclosed in a release issued by Infogrames on Monday morning, but UK-based game news organization CTW reports that Infogrames paid US$50 million for Accolade and is investing an additional $10 million in the company. Considering that Accolade reports annual sales of $50 million, the deal sounds like a win-win situation for both companies.

"We had three requirements for an acquisition in the United States: A willingness by the prospective partner's management to share our strategic vision; a complementary set of skills and products; and finally, an attractive price for our shareholders," said Bruno Bonnell, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Infogrames. "Accolade meets these three criteria. Infogrames will possess the workforce and organizational structure that we require to reach our global revenue target of $1 billion by the year 2002."

The deal gives Infogrames access to Accolade's game development and publishing portfolio with HardBall, Test Drive, and Test Drive Off-Road, along with the roughly 145 workers involved with the creation, development, and production of games. It also gives the company numerous licenses with Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and automobile licenses for Jaguar, Land Rover, Jeep Wrangler, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Viper, Dodge T-Rex, Dodge Ram, Shelby Cobra, and an exclusive Hummer license.

"This combination completely rearranges the US video games landscape. By joining Accolade's marketing and management skills in this all-important market with the strengths of Infogrames' catalogue, we are in the process of creating a world leader," said Jim Barnett, chairman and CEO of Accolade.

Infogrames' last major acquisition was for UK-based Gremlin Interactive for GBP25 million (about US$40 million).

In related news, Infogrames announced that it has ramped up its US and Canadian distribution and sales network. The company will add 18,000 US retail outlets to its already extensive 30,000 outlet European network. US retail chains that Infogrames will be working with include: Toys 'R' Us, Target, WalMart, Sears, K-Mart, Best Buy, Wards, Blockbuster, Electronic Boutique, Ingram Micro, Beamscope, and Babbages.

While Accolade's offerings should fit nicely into the Infogrames portfolio, Accolade's off-road racing series Test Drive Off-Road series (PC and PlayStation) and on-road racing series Test Drive (PC and PlayStation) may have to battle it out against Infogrames' off-road racing game V-Rally (PC and Nintendo 64), on-road racer GT64 (N64), and on/off-road racer MRC. An Accolade representative said that currently no decisions have been made regarding title changes or releases in the US because of the early nature of the acquisition.

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