Video game bosses at Codemasters to pocket £47m in sale

The bosses at video games maker Codemasters are set for a £47m bonanza if the company is sold to US giant Electronic Arts (EA).

Under the £945m deal, top figures at the British firm will receive 604p for each share they own, while some will receive lucrative bonuses for staying at the company as well.

It means that chief executive Frank Sagnier is in line for £20.5m, including £19.6m for his 3.25m shares and a £908,000 retention bonus for staying at least a year following the sale, and finance chief Rashid Varachia will get £9.6m, including £8.9m for 1.47m shares and a £681,000 retention bonus for the same period.

Sale: Codemasters chief executive Frank Sagnier could make £20m from the likes of Fast & Furious

Another big winner will be Slightly Mad Studios boss Ian Bell, whose business Codemasters bought last year. He will get £11.5m for his 1.9m shares.

Special vice-presidents Jonathan Bunney and Clive Moody will get retention bonuses worth £1.1m each for staying on for at least four years, and other staff yet to be determined could get bonuses worth another £3m.

Codemasters was founded in 1986 and is one of Britain’s leading games studios, specialising in racing games such as the official Formula One titles, the Dirt rally franchise, Fast & Furious, and Project Cars. Its half-year revenues have doubled to £80m amid the pandemic.

However, amid its plans for a takeover, EA has not ruled out laying off staff at the Cambridge-based studio if the deal is approved.

The American firm plans to launch a year-long review to see how the two ‘can work most effectively and efficiently together’.

EA says this will not lead to ‘material’ numbers of redundancies but that it will only confirm ‘headcount changes’ following this review.

The company’s £945m offer for Codemasters has derailed a rival takeover bid from fellow US firm Take-Two Interactive, which had offered £759m.

Bosses including Sagnier would have made £32m from that proposal.

But Codemasters’ board has now switched its support to the EA bid, with analysts predicting it could trigger a bidding war.

Take-Two Interactive has said it is considering its options.

EA, which is behind the Fifa, Medal of Honor, Need for Speed and Battlefield game series, is one of the world’s biggest video games publishers with a value of £30billion. Like other games publishers, it has benefited from the surge in demand for home entertainment during the pandemic.

Sports games in particular, like those EA and Codemasters specialise in, have proved particularly popular after some regular leagues were forced to stop play due to the virus.