I know, we don’t usually cover financial news here, but this is pretty big. Just a few days after news reports came out that Activision Blizzard was expected to be forced to perform a debt inducing dividend by 61% shareholder Vivendi Universal, the company has come to terms with Vivendi to buy itself almost completely from the French conglomerate. Vivendi, which is approximately $17.3 billion in debt, was hoping the dividend would help it pay down some debt in an effort to slim down the company. With even more money in hand than the dividend would have paid, Vivendi can no doubt clearly see it’s way to some much hoped for stability.
With Activision Blizzard unshackled from Vivendi, there will likely not be a lot of changes in the management side. Bobby Kotick, said to be one of the best paid CEOs in the entertainment business, will remain on as CEO, while Brian Kelly will take over as Chairman of the company. The deal, worth $8 billion US, will see Vivendi’s stake reduced from 61% to 12%, leaving the people who have made Activision a success to run the company as they see fit. In surprising news coming out of the announcement, Kotick did state that even with the buyout of most of Vivendi’s shares, Activision will still have $3 billion in cash on hand.
The breakdown of the deal is that the company will buy back approximately 429 million shares from Vivendi for $5.83 billion, while an investor group led by CEO Bobby Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly will separately purchase approximately 172 million Activision Blizzard shares from Vivendi for $2.34 billion. Activision Blizzard will host a conference call and live webcast on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. Paris time, 1:30 p.m. London time to discuss this announcement.
[Update: Adam Holisky of WoW Insider has pointed out something I missed in the press release, that WoW is now down to 7.7 million players worldwide. We will no doubt cover this story more on ATA this Monday. ]