EA buys 'Battlefield' maker for $23.9 mil

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In a deal that was in the works for nearly two years, leading games publisher Electronic Arts announced Monday the addition of Swedish developer Digital Illusions CE (DICE) to its stable of studios.

Known for its "Battlefield" franchise, DICE becomes a fully integrated EA studio effective immediately. The team will be "dedicated to growing the "Battlefield" franchise and developing new products for the PC, next generation consoles and other new platforms."

EA acquired the Stockholm-based studio for 67.50 Swedish Kroner (about $9.21) per share in cash, or about $23.9 million. DICE shareholders, who hold roughly 2.6 million shares, will be paid out Oct. 16. As part of the deal, EA acquired (via merger) all the assets and liabilities of DICE.

Now under EA, DICE CEO Patrick Soderlund will become an EA Studio general manager and will maintain responsibility for the DICE studio as well as assume other creative responsibilities. The rest of the DICE leadership team continue in their current roles.

"Being part of the EA studio team is a great step forward that will help us continue to deliver new games and new franchises to DICE fans," Soderlund said. "We've been working very closely with EA for the past five years and this is a very natural step for us as we move into the next generation of gaming."

"EA is thrilled to officially welcome this team of incredibly talented people and a globally recognized game franchise," added Paul Lee, president of EA's Worldwide Studios. "The DICE studio has strong opportunity for growth as we build the 'Battlefield' franchise and other new products. We're confident that our creative approach and business leadership principles are well matched to share future success."

EA had originally set out to acquire DICE back in 2004 and the publisher had the full support of the Swedish company's board. The problem, however, was that stockholders were resisting and EA had trouble getting much beyond a 50% stake. Over the months since EA announced its intent to purchase DICE, the company has managed to slowly pick up additional shares and gained a majority stake in DICE early in 2005. Then in March of this year EA finally announced that the two parties had reached an agreement and would likely close the deal around September.
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