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EA, Take-Two in confidential talks

The rival game makers sign a confidentiality agreement after agreeing to hold private talks about a potential transaction.

Rival game makers Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software signed a confidentiality agreement after agreeing to hold private talks about a potential transaction, EA announced Monday in a regulatory filing.

EA, which had unsuccessfully courted Take-Two for six months, announced last week that it was abandoning its $2 billion hostile bid after Take-Two agreed to present its three-year product release schedule and financial forecasts to EA.

"As a result, EA does not intend to make any further announcements regarding the status of any discussions or negotiations with Take-Two unless and until discussions between EA and Take-Two have been terminated or such parties have entered into a transaction," EA said in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The announcement is the latest twist in EA's long-running but oft-rebuffed effort to acquire Take-Two.

EA took its buyout offer public for the publisher of the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto franchise in February at $26 a share after Take-Two spurned an earlier attempt at a friendly takeover at $25 a share. Take-Two rejected the $26 offer as too low, and EA launched its hostile bid in March. EA subsequently reduced the offer to $25.74 a share. But repeated extensions and offer revisions seemed to hurt the company's credibility.

On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission said it had conducted an investigation of a merger of the companies, but said no further action was required, and closed the investigation.