News Article

Kotick's $8.2 Billion Buyout Makes Activision Independent

Posted by Damien McFerran

Vivendi's stake reduced to 12 percent

Call of Duty publisher Activsion Blizzard is to become independent following a $8.2 billion buyout spearheaded by CEO Bobby Kotick.

Kotick — along with co-chairman Brian Kelly — has formed an investment group which will purchase 172 million shares in the firm, worth $2.34 billion. The publisher itself will pick up 439 million shares from original majority shareholder Vivendi for $5.83 billion.

With Vivendi's stake reduced to 12 percent, Activision Blizzard becomes an independent company led by Kotick and Kelly. The investment group — which will claim around 24.9 percent of the firm — also contains Chinese company Tencent, Davis Advisors and Leonard Green & Partners. Kotick and Kelly have invested around $100 million of their own personal fortunes between them.

Here's what Kotick himself had to say about the deal:

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.

Our successful combination with Blizzard Entertainment five years ago brought together some of the best creative and business talent in the industry and some of the most beloved entertainment franchises in the world, including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Since that time, we have generated over $5.4 billion in operating cash flow and returned more than $4 billion of that to shareholders via buybacks and dividends. We are grateful for Vivendi's partnership through this period, and we look forward to their continued support.

Activision recently announced Call of Duty: Ghosts and SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton's Robotic Revenge for Wii U.

[via gamesindustry.biz]

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User Comments (27)

LOMDR

#1

LOMDR said:

You know, I have to wonder, I wonder if it was the shareholders that said "Don't put COD Ghosts onto the Wii U", with the timing of the U version of that game and this news

DePapier

#2

DePapier said:

"Activision recently announced Call of Duty: Ghosts and SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton's Robotic Revenge for Wii U."

I swear I LOVE that final sentence, it's hilarious. :D

But so yeah, no risks of Activision going Atlus now.

Nibelilt

#3

Nibelilt said:

Well, there goes the future of Crash and Spyro. Down the drain. Fluuuusshhhh. I was hoping that a company which actually cares about making great games would buy them and fix their IPs, but I guess not.

Shworange

#4

Shworange said:

Good business move for activision. Become an independent company shortly before you release a game that will net you millions and get you going on the right track again. It can suck to have a parent company. Especially when they are in financial straights.

erv

#5

erv said:

Ha! This will make Call of Duty an "indie" game, and all you hipsters can start liking it again with a clear conscience now :)

Wanderlei

#9

Wanderlei said:

CoD cash cow wont last forever and WoW is on the decline. I would get out while the going was good, not hang around for the inevitable fall.

moomoo

#10

moomoo said:

That's good for them. Now, if their franchises end up failing, they'll still be secure. And frankly, I don't think it's happening anytime soon.

siavm

#11

siavm said:

This is not a good time for them to do this. Cod may go down in sells this year. WOW is going down. And they killed all their other big franchises they had. What they think is a smart move could be the start of their fall.

MrBlutzIII

#12

MrBlutzIII said:

Activision still makes a lot of games or is at least a part of a lot of different games besides Cod

Falco

#15

Falco said:

8.2 billion? crazy money and all on the back of COD. How are they worth that money? Sounds a bit like Ireland during the celtic tiger years and we all know what happened then.

siavm

#16

siavm said:

@MrBlutzIII activision has gone on record saying cod will not sell as much and behind that is now skylanders which went down too. And outside of those their games do not sell all that well. And since they now are using investors, all their moves will be watched. And if the that earnings report next year shows a big drop in profit the investors they have may back out. Meaning that reserve money they have may to be used to run the business. And they may just start the downfall there.

Falco

#18

Falco said:

They also published a good racing game recently 'Fast & Furious: Showdown'. Worst racer of all time.

Kirk

#19

Kirk said:

Well they'd best start asking us for our hard earned money on Kickstarter to fund their projects then...

Everyone else is doing it now anyway!

JonWahlgrenAdmin

#20

JonWahlgren said:

Vivendi, their former parent company, wanted to squeeze billions from Activision to pay down their own debts. Kotick and co. weren't down with that, so thus this.

Good on 'em.

MussakkuLaden

#22

MussakkuLaden said:

Good thing. One should be happy that they were able to do this.
In times of trouble, Vivendi would have been no big help either, while in good times it was just a burden being attached to them, costing both money and freedom.
It's good to have a large games company independent from a major media conglomerate.

smashbrolink

#23

smashbrolink said:

Wait, so, Activision Blizzard is still responsible for Black Ops II, right?
Does this mean that, now that they are free of their parent company, they might change their policies a bit and start doing things better?
Like, I dunno, bringing ELITE AND DLC to the Wii U version of Black Ops II??

unrandomsam

#25

unrandomsam said:

@Moshugan It is being taken private it is not independent because it will still answer to its investors many of whom have no day to day involvement with the company. It is all nonsense one of those terms that used to mean something fairly well defined that now is a wishy washy term for pretty much anything.

sinalefa

#26

sinalefa said:

So they have gone full circle now. In the 80s they separated from Atari and now they are breaking with Vivendi.

Still, I am not sure the ownership change will also change their views on games.

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