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Eidos bidder wins second major backer

SCi gain will force Elevation to lift its offer

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UK-based games publisher SCi has won a second major backer, adding weight to its £80.4m bid for rival publisher Eidos.

SCi has already gained Schroder's thumbs-up - the investment house owns around 20 per cent of Eidos. Now it has Merrill Lynch's backing, the Financial Times reports this morning, and with it ML's 4.87 per cent stake in Eidos.

SCi said it will offer one of its own shares for every six Eidos shares held. It launched its bid last week the day after US-based Elevation Partners, the venture capital firm which lists U2 lead singer Bono and ex-Electronic Arts president John Riccitello among its partners, said it would pay £71m in cash for loss-making Eidos.

With Schroder's, ML and other shareholders on its side, SCi has 26.3 per cent of Eidos' shares behind it. That means EP's bid, which required the support of 75 per cent of Eidos' shareholders to succeed, will have to be reformulated.

However, EP, which has the backing of Eidos management, can change the bid in such a way that it needs the backing of only 50 per cent of the publisher's shareholders to take possession of the company. ®

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