A play for 'Kombat'

Warners makes $33 mil bid for Midway assets

Time Warner's Warner Bros. unit has made a $33 million bid for key parts of bankrupt video game maker Midway in a move that would strengthen its burgeoning games business.

The move fits TW's strategy of making smaller acquisitions that expand its reach in key growth businesses. The conglomerate recently acquired a 30% stake in Central European Media Enterprises, a broadcaster focused on the Central and Eastern European markets, for $241 million.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in recent years has acquired such video game assets as Monolith Prods., Snowblind Studios and TT Games.

In the proposed Midway deal, which requires bankruptcy court approval and could be trumped by other bidders, Warners has offered to buy such key assets as the "Mortal Kombat" franchise and Midway's Chicago and Seattle studios. Not included in the bid are the firm's San Diego and Newcastle studios or the "TNA" wrestling game franchise. News of the bid first was reported by gaming blog Gamasutra.

The Warners offer came as a "stalking horse bid," in which the seller chooses a buyer from a pool of interested firms to prevent a sale at too low a price. After an initial deal agreement, other bidders have a chance to make competing offers within 30 days of the initial deal's approval by the bankruptcy court.

"As this is an opening bid, and we are expecting other interested parties to come in with competitive bids, it is unknown at this time what the final outcome of the process will be," a Midway spokesman said. "It is our goal through this process to maximize the value of the company and the company's assets."

Midway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February amid a liquidity crisis after Sumner Redstone sold his 87% stake in the firm to investor Mark Thomas. (partialdiff)