Activision Blizzard has become an independent company today. An investor buyout of $8.2 billion USD led by CEO Bobby Kotick has allowed the company to wrest itself from Vivendi's majority control.
The megapublisher behind Call of Duty, Skylanders, and World of Warcraft will purchase 439 million of its shares from Vivendi at a cost of $5.83 billion (about $13.60 per share). In addition, an investment group headed by Kotick and co-chairman Brian Kelly will acquire an additional 172 million shares at a cost of $2.34 billion. These transactions will leave Vivendi with a minority stake of 83 million shares (12% of the company), allowing Activision Blizzard to become independent.
Kotick will continue to lead the company as CEO, while Kelly will become the lone chairman.
Kotick described these transactions as a "tremendous opportunity". "We should emerge even stronger," Kotick continued. "The transactions announced today will alow 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."
This announcement follows months of rumors and speculation indicating that Vivendi was interested in selling or spinning off Activision Blizzard. By purchasing its own shares, the company has taken a similar action on its own terms. The deal will be financed with $1.2 billion of cash on hand and $4.6 billion of debt financing.