SCi in play

Eidos purchaser now on the block itself; Viacom, Electronic Arts, Apax named as potential bidders.


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Just five months after acquiring the underperforming publisher of Tomb Raider, Hitman, and other well-known game franchises, SCi itself is on the auction block.

An official statement filed with the London Stock Exchange, where SCi shares are traded, reads as follows: "The Board of SCi notes today's press comment and confirms that it has received approaches from various parties which may or may not lead to an offer for the Company. A further update will be made as and when appropriate."

British papers are speculating that among the potential bidders for the publisher are the ever-acquisitive Electronic Arts, the even-more-voracious Sumner Redstone (majority shareholder of Midway Games and Viacom CEO), and Apax Partners, a Palo Alto-based venture capital firm with close ties to the game industry (Apax has stakes in mobile game developer and publisher Jamdat, as well as casual game developer TvHead).

Just five months ago, SCi was on the other side of the mergers-and-acquisitions table, buying up Eidos for a reported $144 million and taking ownership of its marquee game franchises.

Bloomberg reports that last month, SCi reported a nine-month loss because of costs associated with the Eidos purchase, including payoffs for most of that company's directors. The wire service said SCi had also cut 15 percent of its UK workforce in attempts to stem the tide of red ink.

SCi's games of merit include Conflict: Vietnam and Richard Burns Rally.

Shares of SCi closed out the trading day at 600 pence ($10.60), up 121.5 pence ($2.13), which represents a gain of 25 percent.

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