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Former Acclaim boss in rescue bid for UK studios

Could see the rise of a new UK publisher.

Rod Cousens, formerly CEO of now-bankrupt publisher Acclaim, is believed to be at the helm of a plan to acquire the company's UK studios and build a new publisher utilising some of Acclaim's major brands and franchises.

According to a report in UK videogame retail trade magazine MCV, Cousens has teamed up with Europlay Capital Advisers to acquire the Cheltenham and Manchester studios, along with a number of work-in-progress games, back catalogue and intellectual properties.

Europlay is run by Sean Brennan and Mark Dyne, and has also worked on games industry deals including the sale of TDK Interactive to Take Two and of Shiny Entertainment to Atari, as well as other entertainment industry work such as the partial sale of the Jim Henson Company (home of the Muppets franchise) to former UPN CEO Dean Valentine.

MCV's report suggests that the new company has acquired four titles, including Interview with a Made Man and Heist, and hopes to sign former Acclaim property Juiced - the rights to which have reverted to development management firm Fund 4 Games in light of Acclaim's bankruptcy.

If the report is correct - and presumably, assuming that the bankruptcy court in New York approves it - then this deal would throw a lifeline to the approximately 160 staff employed by Acclaim's two UK studios, who have been left in limbo since the company filed for liquidation at the start of September.

So far, it's not thought that anyone at the firm has actually been served with redundancy documents, pending the outcome of the liquidation procedures - and while work has stalled on the firm's projects, all staff are still officially employed by Acclaim.

The possibility of a new British publisher rising from the ashes of Acclaim also raises interesting questions about the status of Juiced, which was funded by Fund 4 Games and developed by British studio Juice Games. Earlier this month F4G was in negotiations with Take Two to take on publishing duties on the title, and was reported to be close to a deal; however since then, news on the title's status has dried up, possibly due to the entry of this new player into the fray.

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