Bam! Entertainment has been granted a temporary exception to remain listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, removing one of the key obstacles standing in the way of its acquisition of Scottish games developer Vis Entertainment.
In February the two companies announced that terms of the deal were reliant on California-based Bam! retaining its listing as well as raising $12.35 million (£6.87m) through a private equity placing.
The publisher has been awaiting an appeal against a Nasdaq ruling that it be delisted because shareholder equity had dropped below minimum standards.
The Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel announced last week that shares would continue to trade on the exchange until May 17. The reprieve will allow Bam! time to finish fundraising and conclude the Vis acquisition — subsequently creating the $18m (£10m) in stock equity needed to secure a permanent listing.
Bam! chief financial officer Stephen Ambler admitted that the decision was crucial to completing its private equity placing. He said: “That was holding some investors back. They wanted to make sure that if they put their money in, paving the way for the Vis acquisition, that the Nasdaq then wouldn’t turn around and delist us.”
The news was welcomed by Vis Entertainment, which is led by chief executive Chris van der Kuyl and employs 110 people at its studios in Edinburgh and Dundee. Van der Kuyl is keen for the acquisition to go forward to create a stronger entity that can cope with the spiralling costs associated with developing computer games for more complex consoles. It is hoped that the deal will also finally allow Vis to publish the second version of its blockbuster hit State Of Emergency.
Although the combined company will have its corporate HQ in California, van der Kuyl will be named president and chief operating officer and be based in Scotland.
Meanwhile, Vis iTV — a joint venture between Vis Entertainment and cable provider Telewest — is expected to announce a significant deal within the next two weeks that would see its virtual horse racing game distributed stateside.
I-Race, which currently broadcasts on UK satellite’s sports channel iSportsTV, allows a player to race a personalised animated horse around a race track. A number of factors, including other players and handicaps, cause the race to continuously change. According to industry sources, Vis iTV has concluded an agreement with a major American digital entertainment corporation to operate the game across the country. It is not known whether it will be an online or television version. However, it is expected that the game would allow punters to gamble on the races for prizes. Vis Entertainment refused to comment.
18 April 2004