Business news today that Activision has put some of their huge cash horde to use, not via bonuses to employees, but by buying out the majority of Vivendi’s holdings in the company. Bobby is prominently involved, of course.
Activision Blizzard, the world’s biggest video game publisher, has a reached an $8.2 billion deal to separate from Vivendi and become an independent company.
Under a deal that was announced early Friday, Activision Blizzard and a group of investors led by the company’s management will buy back shares owned by Vivendi, the French conglomerate that controls the video game maker, leaving a majority of Activision Blizzard’s shares held by the investing public.
Activision Blizzard will buy about 429 million of its shares shares and certain tax attributes from Vivendi for roughly $5.83 billion in cash, or $13.60 a share, the company said. In addition, Robert A. Kotick, 50, the chief executive, and Brian Kelly, the co-chairman, are leading a group in buying about 172 million shares of the company from Vivendi for about $2.34 billion.
Vivendi will retain a stake of about 12 percent, or 83 million shares, in Activision Blizzard, the company said. Mr. Kotick will continue to lead the company and Mr. Kelly will become the sole chairman, according to the terms of the deal.
The deal represents the latest corporate maneuver for Mr. Kotick, an entrepreneur who, over more than two decades, has built Activision Blizzard into a giant with a market capitalization of nearly $17 billion.
He bought the company that would become Activision in 1990, when it was nearly bankrupt, and proceeded to raise money from investors. In 2008, Mr. Kotick led one of the biggest video game mergers in history when he combined Activision with the games division of Vivendi, a unit that mostly consisted of Blizzard Entertainment.
Activision Blizzard plans to finance the deal with about $1.2 billion of cash on hand and roughly $4.6 billion of debt, raised through the markets and bank financing. The company expects to have $1.4 billion of net debt after the deal, which is expected to close by the end of September.
This shouldn’t mean a thing in terms of Blizzard’s operations or games, and all of the Blizzard employees who have ever spoken about Activision have said nothing but nice things about management and working with Bobby’s minions. Which means it must be true!
Incidentally, ATVI stock has been doing well lately. It hovered in the $9.50 to 11 range from 2009-2012 before jumping up to $14~ earlier this year, and it’s sitting at $15.31 today, which isn’t far from off of its all time high, set back in 2008 just before the last big tech bubble burst. *Insert Bobby’s Eyes / RMAH joke here*