Way back in 2007, game publishers Activision and Vivendi merged their businesses in a deal worth $18.9 billion. The new entity was called Activision Blizzard, and it controlled some of the most popular gaming franchises around, including Call of Duty, Warcraft, and Diablo. The romance didn't last, though. The New York Times reports that Activision Blizzard is now buying its independence from Vivendi for a cool $8.2 billion.
The buyback is being led by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and Chairman Brian Kelly, who have the support of a separate investment group. Activision will kick in $5.83 billion, while the investment group is on the hook for the rest. Vivendi won't be divorcing itself completely; the firm plans to retain a 12% stake in Activision Blizzard.
Negotiations have apparently been taking place for months as Vivendi sought to get its hands on Activision's substantial cash reserves. The publisher has over $4 billion in the bank thanks to the success of its big-ticket franchises. It intends to hold onto $3 billion of that and finance the rest of the deal with debt.
Kotick has been at the helm of Activision since 1991, so he's likely to continue leading the now-independent publisher. In an official press release (PDF) discussing the deal, Kotick says Activision Blizzard "should emerge even stronger—an independent company with a best-in-class franchise portfolio and the focus and flexibility to drive long-term shareholder value and expand our leadership position as one of the world’s most important entertainment companies." So, nothing about making better games, then. Thanks to TR regular Neutronbeam for the tip.
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