One of the world’s biggest games companies is set to buy back its independence from owner Vivendi.
The Call of Duty publisher Activision will buy 429 million shares from the French Media and Telecoms conglomerate for $5.83bn.
Meanwhile, Bobby Kotick (current CEO) and co-chairman Brian Kelly have formed a investor group to acquire 172 million shares for $2.34bn. $100m comes personally from both execs. The rest comes from a combination of companies including Davis Advisors, Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. and global games giant Tencent.
The news follows reported plans that Vivendi was to raid Activision’s coffers and push the company into debt.
Vivendi still owns shares in the companies, roughly 12 per cent. Meanwhile, Kotick’s group owns 24.9 per cent. Kotick remains CEO.
Bobby Kotick said, "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."