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Nintendo laughs off talk of swallowing Sega

$2bn buyout denied

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Nintendo has laughed off rumours that it is in talks to buy Sega for $2 billion.

Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi said there was no chance of the Japanese video games giant swallowing rival Sega. Sega also issued a statement rubbishing the claims.

The two were responding to an article in today's New York Times, which said that execs close to the negotiations reckoned the two were in talks that could lead to a $2 billion acquisition.

The talks had been going on "in fits and starts for months", according to the report, and terms of the deal - which could still collapse - were still being banged out. The paper also said that Sega chairman Isao Okawa had been trying to offload the company for some time, and had even approached Microsoft.

A Nintendo spokesperson laughed when asked if the companies were in talks, saying: "In this industry there are various kinds of rumours". While a Sega representative slammed the idea as "absolutely outrageous".

Sega has been hit by popularity of Sony's PlayStation2 video game console, while being forced to cut prices of its Dreamcast console in the US and Europe. Next year is also expected to see the launch of Nintendo's GameCube and Microsoft's X-Box.

In October Sega warned investors to expect group net losses of 22.1 billion yen ($194 million) for the year ending March 2001 - its fourth successive year in the red. It previously forecast a net profit of 1.5 billion yen ($13 million) for the current year. ®

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