Gameplay in take-over talks

UK gaming group shelves its financial results as it enters discussions with possible buyers
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Computer gaming firm Gameplay could be about to be taken over.

The UK-based company designs games for the Internet and mobile phones, and also sells boxed software online and by mail-order. Gameplay announced on Monday that has received an offer for "some or all" of the group, and was in talks with at least one unnamed company. It revealed that a management buyout for the boxed software division was also under discussion.

In February, Cisco Systems, the number one maker of networking equipment for the Internet, was in talks with Gameplay about a possible investment. However, Cisco is understood to have put an informal hold on making any new acquisitions in the current market conditions.

Gameplay -- which floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in August 1999 -- was to announce interim financial results on Monday, but this has now been postponed. Its shares, which started Monday morning at 14.25p, initially rose by over 20 percent on the news of the possible take-over and later settled at 15.5p. At their peak last summer a share was worth £10.80

Since its flotation Gameplay has made a number of important alliances. In August 1999 it teamed up with network provider Orange to supply games and services to WAP phones. Other deals mean that its software is sold through high street retail chain Dixons, and also through Yahoo!

In an attempt to beat the dot-com blues Gameplay cut 275 jobs -- or 40 percent of its workforce -- in February.

Other companies who could be in the frame to take over Gamplay include BT, Dixons and BSkyB, all of whom are existing investors.

For complete gaming news, see GameSpot UK.

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