GAME Group looks for a buyer

March 12, 2012 // 10:56 a.m.

Tags: #game #game-group #gameplay #gamestation #gamestop #retail

GAME Group PLC could be entering its last few weeks of business as rent falls due on the bulk of its properties, unless a buyer can be found within days.

The Sunday Times reported this weekend that Game has placed itself up for sale, appointing Rothschild to find a buyer as its debts mount ahead of rent falling due on its high-street properties. Should Rothschild fail to find a buyer, the chain - which owns both GAME and Gamestation as well as the web-exclusive and recently-shuttered Gameplay brand - will be forced into insolvency.

The news comes as part of the company's continued financial struggles which have seen it fail to secure distribution rights for new-release games from a raft of publishers, including the much-anticipated limited edition releases of BioWare's Mass Effect 3.

Trade publication MCV, which has been documenting GAME Group's recent problems, suggests that US retailer GameStop may be interested in purchasing some stores. The company runs a web-based UK retail arm, and previously had a small number of high-street shops in the UK and Ireland before closing them in favour of online-only retail.

However, despite signs that GameStop may be interested in GAME Group's Spanish assets, there's little hint that it's planning to buy its UK stores - despite a knock-down price. Following the publicity surrounding its financial struggles, GAME Group has seen its share price drop this morning to just 1.15p for a market cap of just under £5 million.

That figure might seem like a bargain, but there's a catch: whoever buys GAME Group's assets will also buy its liabilities, in particular its massive pile of debt and outstanding rent payments for its properties. As a result, it will take a company with deep pockets and a real plan for change to consider saving the iconic retailer.

Should GAME Group fail to find a buyer, its insolvency would have a major impact on the state of the industry - as explained in this analysis by Joe. For the sake of the industry, and regardless of the company's somewhat premium pricing policies and questionable business practice with regards retro stock, let's hope Rothschild is successful.

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