Square Enix Offers 67 Billion Yen to Acquire Taito

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Square Enix Co., Japan's top maker of role-playing video games, offered to pay as much as 67 billion yen ($610 million) to buy arcade game maker Taito Corp., becoming the latest games company to merge amid increased competition.
Tokyo-based Square Enix will pay 181,100 yen a share for 67 percent of the 370 million shares outstanding in Taito, and plans to buy the whole company, according to a statement. The offer is at a 12 percent premium to Taito's close today, and will be open from tomorrow to Sept. 21. Kyocera Corp., Taito's largest shareholder, will sell its 36 percent stake to Square Enix.
Square Enix, which makes the ``Final Fantasy'' game series, is seeking ways to increase market share and cut development costs in the $20 billion video games software market. Buying Taito, which created the ``Space Invaders'' arcade game, will allow it to expand beyond its range of role-playing titles to compete against Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. and Nintendo Co.
``We need to expand our product and service line-up in order to respond to the changing environment of the industry,'' according to the Square Enix statement.
Square Enix, itself is a merger between Square Co. and Enix Corp. in 2003, reported sales of 73.9 billion yen in the fiscal year ended March 31. Taito had revenue of 84.6 billion yen on a parent basis for the same period.
The combined sales of 158.5 billion yen would lag Sega Sammy's 515.7 billion yen and Nintendo's 515.3 billion yen in the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japanese games makers are also looking at ways to share costs ahead of the release of new game consoles, whose sales are tied to the number of titles available. Microsoft Corp. is scheduled to release its Xbox 360 console in December, while Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Revolution are expected next year.
Tokyo-based Sega Sammy, the nation's biggest toys and video games maker, was created last October, when pachinko slot machine maker Sammy Corp. bought Sega Corp., maker of the ``Sonic the Hedgehog'' video-game character.
In May, Bandai Co. agreed to buy Namco Ltd. for about 175.3 billion yen to create Japan's second-biggest maker of toys and video game software. Takara Co. and Tomy Co. are in talks to create Japan's fourth-largest toy and game company.
Shares of Square Enix fell 0.5 percent to 2,995 yen at the 3 p.m. close on the Tokyo exchange. Taito shares rose 1.9 percent to 161,000 yen. The announcement was made after equity markets closed.

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