$8.2 billion. That's the price of freedom for Activision Blizzard, who have truck a deal to buy 601 million shares from Vivendi and trade on as an independent public company. 172 million of those shares were purchased by a group set up by Acti CEO Bobby Kotick and co-chair Brian Kelly, who lined the pot with $100 million in personal pocket change.
Reuters report that Vivendi's share in Actiblizz will dwindle from a 61% to 12% as a result of the deal, freeing up some swift cash for Vivendi to spend on branded lollipops and looming debt and handing BlizzVision a 13.8% share hike. What time is it? It's BUSINESS TIME .
The Guardian note that a portion of the buy was aided by investment from Chinese firm, Tencent, who also own a majority share of Riot Games, who made League of Legends, a minority share in Epic, and could provide some useful market expertise if ActiBlizz are looking to reverse the recent decline in Chinese WoW subs. Additionally, with no partner to move their cash into other affairs, Activison Blizzard will have more freedom to reinvest profits back into its studios, or see them through any future market wobbles. In the statement accompanying the deal's announcement, Kotick said that the buy leaves ActiBlizz with "$3bn cash on hand to preserve financial stability." That can't hurt given the potentially destabilising influence of the next gen console launch at the end of the year.
But Kotick et al will still have shareholders expecting yearly Call of Duty instalments. WoW subs are dipping, and Blizzard are in the process of making "large design and technology changes" to Project Titan . Still, the future hardly looks bad at all for Kotick and co. CoD: Ghosts is on the way, and Bungie's promising let's-shoot-things-together-in-the-future game, Destiny, looks very promising, even if it isn't confirmed for PC yet, damnit.
The real question is, what else could we do with £8.2 billion? You could build a house out of Nvidia Titans and still have enough cash left over to buy the Moon.