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Universal parent's video games giant goes independent

Tom Pakinkis
Vivendi

Universal’s parent Vivendi is set to let go of Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s biggest games companies, which is about to buy back its independence from the French Media and Telco conglomerate.

Activision – the publisher of a number of big gaming franchises including Call Of Duty - will buy 429 million shares from Vivendi for $5.83 billion, according to Music Week sister publication MCV.

The company’s CEO Bobby Kotic and co-chairman Brian Kelly have also formed an investor group to acquire 172 million shares for $2.34 billiob - $100 million of which personally comes from both execs.

The news comes after Vivendi reportedly turned down an $8.5 billion bid for Universal Music from Japanese telecoms group SoftBank, according to Financial Times sources.

Speaking of the Activision buy out, Bobby Kotick said, "These transactions together represent a tremendous opportunity for Activision Blizzard and all its shareholders, including Vivendi.

“We 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.

“The transactions announced today will allow us to take advantage of attractive financing markets while still retaining more than $3 billion cash on hand to preserve financial stability.”

Since acquiring Blizzard Entertainment five years ago, Activision has generated over $5.4 billion in operating cash flow, returning more than $4 billion to shareholders via buybacks and dividends, according to Kotick.

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Tags: universal, Vivendi, Universal Music Group, Activision Blizzard

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