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Vivendi and Activision form Activision Blizzard

by Steven Williamson on 3 December 2007, 09:26

Tags: Vivendi Universal Interactive (NYSE:VIV)

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Creating a worldwide leader

We weren't expecting this to happen. Yesterday it was announced that Activision, Inc and Vivendi have signed a definitive agreement to combine Vivendi Games, Vivendi's interactive entertainment business -- which includes Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft with Activision, creating the world’s largest pure-play online and console game publisher. The new company, Activision Blizzard, is expected to have approximately $3.8 billion in pro forma combined calendar 2007 revenues and the highest operating margins of any major third-party video game publisher. On closing of the transaction, Activision will be renamed Activision Blizzard.

Activision is best known for its top- selling franchises, including Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and the Tony Hawk series, as well as Spider- Man, X-Men, Shrek, James Bond and Transformers. Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games, has projected calendar 2007 revenues of $1.1 billion, operating margins of over 40% and approximately $520 million of operating profit. Blizzard owns the online role-playing game franchise, World of Warcraft, which currently has over 9.3 million subscribers worldwide. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo games account for four of the top-five best-selling PC game titles of all time. Vivendi Games also owns popular franchises, including Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. Pro forma for calendar 2007, Activision Blizzard expects to generate approximately 70% of its revenues from owned franchises. As a result of the business combination, Activision Blizzard expects to have the most diversified and broadest portfolio of interactive entertainment assets in its industry, positioning the combined company to capitalize on the continued worldwide growth in interactive entertainment

Jean-Bernard Lévy, Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi stated: “This alliance is a major strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to extend our presence in the entertainment sector. By combining Vivendi’s games business with Activision, we are creating a worldwide leader in a high-growth industry. We are excited about the opportunities for Activision Blizzard as a broader entertainment software platform. We believe this transaction will create significant value for Activision Blizzard and Vivendi stockholders. In Activision, we have found a partner with a highly complementary business and strong operating team. Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly are industry pioneers, well known for creating shareholder value. The combined strength of the existing management teams at both companies will set the stage for further profitable growth of Activision Blizzard. We look forward to being an active and supportive majority stockholder in a company that is poised to lead the worldwide interactive entertainment industry in the years ahead.”

René Penisson, Member of the Management Board of Vivendi and current Chairman of Vivendi Games, added: “We are very confident that by combining forces, Activision Blizzard will set the highest standards in quality, reputation and profitability, and will bring together the best creative teams in the industry. The combination of this unique product portfolio with highly professional employees gives us great confidence in the growth prospects for Activision Blizzard.”

Said Robert Kotick, Activision's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: “This is an outstanding transaction for Activision and our stockholders, as well as a pivotal event in the continuing transformation of the interactive entertainment industry. By combining leaders in mass-market entertainment and subscription-based online games, Activision Blizzard will be the only publisher with leading market positions across all categories of the rapidly growing interactive entertainment software industry and reach the broadest possible audiences. By joining forces with Vivendi Games, we will become the immediate leader in the highly profitable online games business and gain a large footprint in the rapidly growing Asian markets, including China and Korea, while maintaining our leading operating performance across North America and Europe. Activision stockholders will benefit from significantly increased earnings power and the recurring nature and predictability of subscriptionbased revenues, while also having the opportunity, if they choose, to receive $27.50 per share for a portion of their shares in the post-closing tender offer.”


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EA shares down 20% on this news? :)

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