EA is the home of the Need for Speed and Burnout franchises, but its planned buyout of racing specialist Codemasters would add a number of high-profile racing brands to its stable.
The publisher’s Need for Speed series has stuck to a biennial release schedule for much of the past decade. Last year it handed the franchise back to UK-based Criterion Games and announced a restructure of Sweden’s Ghost Games, which has developed the last four entries in the racing series.
Codemasters is the publisher of racing games including Dirt, F1, Grid and OnRush. The company has also recently secured the rights to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and in 2019 it acquired Slightly Mad, the developer of the Project Cars series and Fast & Furious Crossroads.
Discussing the strategic rationale of the potential Codemasters acquisition as part of its third-quarter earnings results on Tuesday, EA said the $1.2 billion deal would create “a global leader in racing entertainment” and “enable EA to release new racing experiences annually”.
It’s worth noting that in recent years Codemasters has released its own annual racing title, even not counting for its yearly F1 instalments.
Codemasters’ three directors recently entered into a binding agreement to vote in favour of the proposed acquisition of the British game developer and publisher by EA at a meeting due to held on February 3, where they hope the deal will gain enough support from fellow shareholders to be approved.
CEO Frank Sagnier, chief financial officer Rashid Varachia and executive director Ian Bell, who is also the CEO of Slightly Mad, hold a combined stake of 4.34% in Codemasters.
Their agreement to vote in favour of the acquisition is now binding even if a higher competing offer is made for Codemasters and will only be terminated if the takeover offer is withdrawn by EA or lapses in accordance with its terms.
The Codemasters board has also unanimously recommended that the company’s shareholders vote in favour of EA’s acquisition at the aforementioned meeting, which will take place at the Codemasters campus in Warwickshire.