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Tiger catches Warthog

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UK stock market-listed games developer Warthog is to be bought by US-based Tiger Telematics, owner of the Gizmondo mobile gaming console for almost 500,000 Tiger shares and $1.13m in cash - together worth $8.1m.

Tiger will acquire all of Warthog's operating subsidiaries, along with the group's debts, and Warthog's CEO, Ashley Hall, COO Steven Law and CFO Simon Elms, will become Tiger employees.

The completion of the sale was formally announced today, with the transaction bypassing shareholders in order to complete the deal as "rapidly as possible". Why the need to act so quickly? "Because the group has continued to face difficult trading conditions within the games development industry," the company said.

In the year to March 2004, Warthog lost over £9m on sales of £5.7m - almost all of it in the form of development advances - down "significantly" on the previous year.

Tiger is best-known as the owner of Gizmondo Europe, a subsidiary that this past Friday launched the Gizmondo console in Europe. The device needs to build up a library of quality titles, and the Warthog acquisition may be seen as a way of doing so. Warthog's team also has close ties with key games publishers and franchise owners.

Warthog itself was founded in 1997 by ex-Electronic Arts staffers. It employs 250 in offices in Manchester, the US and Sweden. To date, the company has focused on developing games on behalf of publishers such as EA, Warner and Universal. In particular it has worked on a number of key cross-media franchises, such as the Harry Potter games. ®

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