Grand Theft Auto: the fighting is real

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Take Two, maker of the Grand Theft Auto video game, is fending off the most aggressive takeover bid in the sector's history.

Pre-order sales of Grand Theft Auto IV, which hits the shops on Tuesday, suggest it could be the biggest entertainment launch of all time, eclipsing the $404m (£205m) taken by the film 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' in its first week.

After overtures to Take Two were rebuffed in February, gaming giant Electronic Arts, which owns the rights to hits including 'The Sims', has waged a relentless campaign to persuade shareholders to accept an offer of $26 a share, which would value the Nasdaq- listed group at over $2.1bn.

Only 8 per cent of shareholders have responded so far, prompting EA to extend the deadline for acceptance to 16 May. Analysts say most investors are waiting to evaluate the game's sales before judging if the offer is fair. Take Two has dismissed it as inadequate.

Grand Theft Auto's success has transformed the fortunes of Take Two and its development arm Rockstar, an Edinburgh-based team founded on a shoestring in 1988 by electrical engineer David Jones. EA's move comes soon after Vivendi and Activision agreed a $9.8bn merger that will see the combined group overtake EA as the world's biggest games publisher.

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