Activision Blizzard has purchased its independence from Vivendi today after acquiring 429 million company shares at $13.60 a share each, totaling approximately $5.83 billion in cash. Where Vivendi previously owned a majority share of Activision Blizzard, the majority has now shifted to the public. In a simultaneous transaction, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly invested to purchase an additional $100 million in shares from Vivendi.
Bobby Kotick released the following statement:
"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(R) and World of Warcraft(R). 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."
Vivendi has recently come under financial duress and attempted to sell Activision Blizzard early last year, though the efforts proved fruitless. Rumors began in May that Activision Blizzard was considering purchasing their independence rather than ride out Vivendi's financial troubles. It all came to a conclusion when in recent weeks Vivendi put into motion a plan to pull around $3 billion out of Activision Blizzard through a complicated special dividend
I'm not a financial expert by any means, but it seems as if Vivendi essentially forced Activision Blizzard's hand. What affects the financial movements of the day will inevitably have on the business or future game development at the company is indefinable. Independence is a good thing right? Yet it was under Vivendi's majority that franchises like Call of Duty, Skylanders and World of Warcraft became so hugely successful.
Activision Blizzard will hold a conference call tomorrow morning to further detail the announcement. Expect more details as we hear them. Trust me when I say that all in-development projects at Activision or Blizzard will almost certainly continue as if the events of the day never happened.