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Activision Seeks Independence From Vivendi In $8.17 Billion Buyout

Activision Seeks Independence From Vivendi In $8.17 Billion Buyout

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), the company behind Call of Duty, Skylanders and the ill-fated Guitar Hero franchise, is seeking independence from Vivendi (OTC: VIVHY).

The company had hoped to buy back roughly 429 million shares -- worth $5.83 billion -- from Vivendi earlier this year. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and co-chairman Brian Kelly planned to buy the remaining 172 million shares, worth $2.34 billion.

The sale was halted when a shareholder, Douglas Hayes, filed a lawsuit claiming that Vivendi's Board of Directors needed shareholder approval in order to sell its stake in Activision.

According to Bloomberg, Activision has a backup plan. If the preliminary injunction is not overturned, the Call of Duty maker will seek shareholder approval to buy $8.17 billion worth of stock from Vivendi.

In doing so, Activision would gain independence from Vivendi, which acquired a majority stake in the company in 2008.

Related: PlayStation 4 Software Pre-Orders Top Xbox One By 55%

Two Enter, One Leaves

When Activision joined Vivendi five years ago, it did not have control of Blizzard Games, the company behind World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. After acquiring Activision, Vivendi merged the firm with Blizzard.

If and when Activision is able to sever its ties with Vivendi, it will have the luxury of taking Blizzard and all of its assets. Considering that World of Warcraft was once a cash cow for Activision (and is still worth billions in annual revenue), this seems like a pretty sweet deal.

A similar event occurred when General Electric (NYSE: GE) acquired Universal Pictures from Vivendi. GE merged Universal with its TV network, NBC, and sold the resulting entity (NBCUniversal) to Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

Time Is Running Out

According to the Bloomberg report, Activision will appear before the Delaware Supreme Court on October 10 to appeal the lower-court injunction.

If the purchases are not allowed to go forward by October 15, Activision may be delayed (if not prevented) from buying back a controlling stake in its own firm.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: Activision Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick Call of Duty ComcastM&A News Tech Best of Benzinga


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