Bioware and Pandemic to merge, creating new 'super-studio'

Biowandemic! Panware! Etc!

Top North American developers Bioware and Pandemic are set to merge in a $300 million deal crafted by Elevation Partners, the private equity firm headed up by former EA president John Riccitiello.

The deal brings together two of the most successful development studios in North America, with Canadian firm Bioware being responsible for titles ranging from Baldurs Gate and Knights of the Old Republic to Jade Empire, while US studio Pandemic has worked on the likes of Full Spectrum Warrior and Mercenaries.

The new operation will consist of a holding company, creatively called Bioware/Pandemic Studios, with Riccitiello as CEO and the current heads of Bioware (Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka) and Pandemic (Andrew Goldman and Josh Resnick) as senior executives.

As might be expected from such a deal, no jobs will be lost and all of the firm's studios - in Edmonton (Canada), Los Angeles and Brisbane (Australia) - will remain in operation. In fact, the company's 400 staff will all receive shares in Bioware/Pandemic.

The deal comes six months after Elevation Partners' bid to acquire UK publisher Eidos fell through after a protracted battle with rival bidder SCi - itself now believed to be an acquisition target.

However, Elevation Partners claims to have no ambitions to turn Bioware/Pandemic into a publisher, and the company will continue to work with existing publishing partners such as THQ and Microsoft.

Elevation is a relatively new entertainment venture capital fund, and boasts around $2 billion to spend on entertainment and media ventures. Several key entertainment figures sit on the board of the company, including Bono, the frontman of Irish rock group U2.

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