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Lara Croft firm scraps bid talks (January 11)

Shares in UK computer games publisher SCI, the maker of Lara Croft Tomb Raider, have halved after the firm abandoned talks over a possible sale.

SCI had been in talks with different parties since September. The firm ended them as it no longer believed it would receive a good enough price.

The firm also said it was delaying the release of four new games.

As a result, SCI said that it now expected to make an operating loss in the current financial year.

By close of trade in London, SCI shares had fallen 54% to 62p.

Maximising value

SCI said that four of its new games - including Tomb Raider: Underworld - would now not be released until the final quarter of the 2008 financial year, in time for the Christmas market.

The games had originally been scheduled for June, but SCI said the delay meant they could launch the titles for six game consoles simultaneously, against the initial plan for three.

"The board believes that these simultaneous multi-platform launches in the key buying period, optimises the value that these franchises can deliver to the company over the long term," SCI said.

SCI added that it was "pleased" with its trading over the Christmas period. It said its Kane and Lynch game had sold more than one million copies since its release in November.

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

SCi Entertainment Calls Off Bid Talks (January 11)

LONDON (AP) -- SCi Entertainment Group PLC, maker of the popular Lara Croft Tomb Raider games, said Thursday it has called off takeover talks with potential suitors and will make an operating loss for the 2008 fiscal year.

In an unexpected announcement after the market close, the London-based computer games developer said it didn't believe the company would be sold for its full value at the current time and called off talks after failing to receive a formal offer from any interested parties.

"The board no longer believes that a sale of the company for its full value is likely to be achieved at the current time and has reached the view that it is not in the company's or its shareholders' interests to prolong these discussions further," said SCi Entertainment in a statement. "Therefore offer-related discussions have been terminated today."

However, SCi Entertainment, which publishes its games -- including Kane and Lynch -- under the Eidos Interactive brand, added that "certain commercial and strategic opportunities have emerged" from the bid discussions, which it will continue to explore. A spokesman for SCi declined to elaborate.

The computer games maker also said Thursday that it now expects to make a full-year 2008 operating loss, after taking the decision to shift the release date of four of its titles into the fourth quarter following a review.

By moving the release dates -- including the new "Tomb Raider: Underworld" game -- into the more lucrative 2008 Christmas trading period the company said it would better optimize long term value. However, in the meantime it may have to seek additional working capital.

SCi Entertainment first said it had received bid approaches in September, following a profit warning that saw its shares fall 18 percent. Following price drops in its Sony Corp Playstation 2 portfolio, due to strong competition from Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii and DS consoles, and Sony's own Playstation 3 launch, SCi warned in July that its full year results would be hit. In September it confirmed it had swung to a full-year net loss of 29.1 million pounds, or about $57 million.

A number of rival games makers including Electronic Arts Inc and France's Ubisoft Entertainment, have all been linked to the company. Time Warner Inc., which owns a 10 percent stake in SCi Entertainment, was also rumored to be interested in gaining a greater share in the company, although all of these firms have declined to comment on the matter.

Source: Yahoo Entertainment