SCi raises $119M in share sale

Warner Bros. increases stake in ailing publisher to 20 percent, enters NA distribution agreement following substantial placing and open offer.


Tomb Raider: Underworld
Hitman: Absolution
Battlestations: Pacific

SCi's financial drama has, for a time at least, come to a close. After saying in February that the company needed to immediately obtain between £45 million (about $89 million) and £55 million (about $109 million) in working capital, the UK-based publisher and parent company of Eidos Interactive announced today it will raise some £60 million (about $119 million) in capital by issuing 171.6 million new shares, 45 percent of which will be for open purchase at a 37.5 percent discount of the stock's current going rate and the remaining 55 percent being limited to existing shareholders Time Warner and Thorson Prime Broker.

"The purpose of the Placing and Open Offer is to raise funds to provide SCi with the working capital necessary to fund the business and activities of the Company through the near-term and with additional funds for general corporate purposes over the medium to long-term," SCi said in a statement. "The net proceeds of the Placing and Open Offer will provide the Company with sufficient funds to develop and launch new editions of SCi's key titles, and to repay amounts outstanding under SCi's overdraft."

Both Time Warner and Thorson will be increasing their stake in SCi by some 45 million shares. According to Reuters, Thorson will raise its existing hold in the company from 15.4 percent to 22 percent, while Time Warner will now hold a 20 percent share of SCi following the placement, up from 10.2 percent. SCi notes that pending shareholder approval and assuming Time Warner and Thorson take full advantage of the offer, each will have contributed £15 million (about $23.4 million) to the £60 million total ($119 million).

In addition to gobbling up a larger stake in the company, Time Warner will enter into a North American distribution agreement with SCi under its Warner Bros. Home Entertainment label. As part of the deal, Warner Bros. will distribute SCi and Eidos boxed products in North America, as well as provide other creative, publicity, marketing, and sales services.

"I want more distribution muscle in North America," SCi CEO Phil Rogers told Reuters. "Boxed products. Retail relationships. It's a distribution drive, to grow top-line revenues. We won't give targets, it's too granular, but the US should be 50 percent of my revenues and it's not now."

As part of today's announcement, SCi reaffirmed that it was targeting a late-2008 release for Tomb Raider: Underworld. The publisher also provided a brief update on several other products in its pipeline, saying Eidos Montreal had begun work on Deus Ex 3, and that IO Interactive is "already working on a brand-new franchise along with the fifth Hitman game and a sequel to Kane & Lynch." SCi also noted that Eidos Hungary's Battlestations: Pacific is now slated to arrive in its next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Warner Bros. investment in SCi is the company's latest move to increase its stake in the gaming business. Following a $500 million cash infusion by an Abu Dhabi-based financial group last year, the publisher purchased Lego Star Wars studio Traveller's Tales for a reported £100 million (about $156 million). The publisher was named as one of the many suitors reportedly in talks to buy out SCi since the publisher said that it had entered into preliminary acquisition discussions in September.

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