Under the deal, Take-Two will acquire all outstanding shares of Zynga in a cash-and-stock transaction representing a 64% premium on Zynga’s stock price as of last Friday. Zynga shares, which have been in a slump over the past year, rocketed almost 50% before the opening bell.
Take-Two is led by Strauss Zelnick, a veteran media and tech executive who became Zynga’s chairman and CEO and the firm’s largest shareholder in a 2007 takeover. The well-connected exec took a turn in the traditional spotlight in 2018, serving as chairman of CBS Corp. and helping steer the media company through its Les Moonves travails en route to its reunion with Viacom.
The merger creates a video game outfit with a vast portfolio of titles. Take-Two’s various labels make Red Dead Redemption, Midnight Club, NBA 2K, BioShock, Borderlands, Civilization, Mafia and Kerbal Space Program. Zynga’s games initially found purchase on social networks, mainly Facebook, before going on to become popular on mobile devices. The lineup includes CSR Racing, Empires & Puzzles, Farmville, Golf Rival, Hair Challenge, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells and Words With Friends.
The deal “significantly diversifies our business and establishes our leadership position in mobile, the fastest growing segment of the interactive entertainment industry,” Zelnick said in a press release. “This strategic combination brings together our best-in-class console and PC franchises, with a market-leading, diversified mobile publishing platform that has a rich history of innovation and creativity. Zynga also has a highly talented and deeply experienced team, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Take-Two family in the coming months.”
The combined company will be able to realize $100 million of annual cost synergies within the first two years, Zenick predicted, as well as $500 million of annual net bookings opportunities.
“Combining Zynga’s expertise in mobile and next-generation platforms with Take-Two’s best-in-class capabilities and intellectual property will enable us to further advance our mission to connect the world through games while achieving significant growth and synergies together,” Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau said.