Electronic Arts agrees £945m deal to buy UK’s Codemasters

US games giant Electronic Arts (EA) has agreed a £945 million deal to buy UK racing game specialist Codemasters.

The move gatecrashes a planned £759 million cash-and-stock deal between Codemasters and Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two.

Shares in Codemasters soared in early trading on Monday amid investor hopes that a bidding war could develop.

California-based EA has put forward a 604p-per-share deal which represents a 13% increase on the group’s closing share price on Friday.

Codemasters is behind the F1 series of video games and DiRT rally franchise.

A deal would unite EA’s strong stable of sport and driving titles, including FIFA and Need for Speed, with Codemasters’ racing titles.

EA chief executive Andrew Wilson said: “We believe there is a deeply compelling opportunity in bringing together Codemasters and EA to create amazing and innovative new racing games for fans.

“Our industry is growing, the racing category is growing, and together we will be positioned to lead in a new era of racing entertainment.

“We have admired Codemasters’ creative talent and high-quality games for many years.

“With the full leverage of EA’s technology, platform expertise, and global reach, this combination will allow us to grow our existing franchises and deliver more industry-defining racing experiences to a global fan base.”

Codemasters chairman Gerhard Florin said: “Electronic Arts and Codemasters have a shared ambition to lead the video game racing category.

“The board of Codemasters firmly believes the company would benefit from EA’s knowledge, resources and extensive global scale – both overall and specifically within the racing sector.

“We feel this union would provide an exciting and prosperous future for Codemasters, allowing our teams to create, launch and service bigger and better games to an extremely passionate audience.”

Shares in Codemasters moved 19.1% higher to 636p in early trading on Monday.