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Bioware/Pandemic considering stock market flotation

But will market be receptive?

The leaders of the "super-developer" created by the acquisition of Bioware and Pandemic Studios by former EA president John Riccitiello's Elevation Partners may be considering an IPO for the firm, according to a New York Times report.

Rumours that Bioware/Pandemic - which are currently merged under the temporary title of VG Holdings - would go public first circulated when the two firms were brought together by Elevation in a $300 million deal last month.

Now, speaking to the New York Times, Pandemic president Josh Resnick appears to have confirmed that a flotation could be on the cards for the studio.

The New York Times likens Elevation's plans for the studio to the model used by Pixar, the CG movie production company backed by Apple boss Steve Jobs, which has used its public flotation to keep it independent of the media conglomerate market.

"We don't see why there can't be the same model in the video game industry," Resnick told the NY Times - suggesting that the US could soon see its first flotation of a videogame company which isn't a publisher.

Such a move would not be unprecedented, however. Here in the UK, a number of developers floated on the London Stock Exchange's AIM (Alternative Investment Market) several years ago.

By and large, however, that move has not been judged a success. Both Warthog and Argonaut are now out of business, and Kuju Entertainment and Bits Corp, while largely speaking successful as developers, are now undervalued but still encumbered by the regulatory requirements of being listed on the exchange.

Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter also doesn't believe that there's much appetite for flotations such as this, telling the New York Times that "they don't have any chance of success."

"There's not an appetite to segment the different links in the value chain," he commented. "The best evidence of that is that we have companies like Viacom, Disney and News Corp."

Flotation rumours aren't the only speculation surrounding Bioware / Pandemic at present; Elevation is also reported to be considering adding at least one other studio to the conglomerate, with UK-based Lionhead often mentioned in this context.

Whether that's more wishful thinking than anything else remains to be seen. Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux is rumoured to have investigated the possibility of floating the company on the stock exchange in recent years; doing so as part of a much larger group would undoubtedly be a more attractive option.

However, since an initial burst of speculation a few weeks ago, there's been little noise about any possible interest from Elevation - although Riccitiello's firm, which numbers U2 frontman Bono among its investors, is certainly not blind to the potential represented by the European territory. Earlier this year it attempted to acquire struggling UK publisher Eidos, tabling a bid which was eventually beaten by rival British firm SCi.