PARIS (AFX) - Electronic Arts, the world's biggest video games maker, said it bought about 19.9 pct in French rival Ubi Soft Entertainment SA from Talpa Beheer BV for an undisclosed sum.
The whole of Ubisoft is worth about 30 mln eur, based on the 16.98 eur closing price of its shares on Euronext Paris on Friday.
Redwood City, California-based Electronic Arts said the share purchase, carried out in one block, will be completed when antitrust clearance is obtained from the US government.
Talpa Beheer is the investment vehicle of Dutch financier John de Mol, co-founder of TV company Endemol which pioneered reality TV with 'Big Brother'.
Talpa was reported early in 2004 to have raised its stake in Ubisoft to 10.5 pct.
Electronic Arts becomes Ubisoft's biggest shareholder. Second biggest is the company's founders with a combined stake of 15 pct, according to Ubisoft's website, followed by French bank Caisse des Depots et Consignations with 6 pct.
Excluding the 10 pct officially owned by Talpa, the other 69 pct was in free float, according to Ubisoft.
Last month Electronic Arts offered to acquire the 81 pct it doesn't already hold in Swedish game developer Digital Illusions CE for undisclosed terms.
The offer for DICE is scheduled to close on Dec 27.
Electronic Arts was estimated at that time have more than 2 bln usd cash in hand, according to analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan.
In the third quarter of this year Electronic Arts made EPS of 31 cents on sales of 716 mln usd.
Last week Ubisoft announced that its net loss widened to to 36.5 mln eur under French accounting standards in the six months to September from 34.4 mln a year earlier and to 43.0 mln eur under US GAAP from 32.1 mln previously.
Sales edged up to 130.0 mln eur in the first half from 128.8 mln in the prior year.
Ubisoft predicted full-year profit before tax and interest of 40-45 mln eur under French standards and 38-43 mln under US rules. Net profit before exceptionals is seen at 18-22 mln according to French GAAP and at 17-21 mln using the US guidelines.