Vivendi announced today that it would be selling 85% of its stake in Activision at a 10% discount back to the videogame giant and its management. It’s thought that the move is to help Vivendi generate the cash it needs to pay down its debts, refocus its business on other core entertainment activities, and stay in the good graces of the ratings agencies. After the sell-off concludes, which will generate 6.17 billion euros for the telecom-media giant, Vivendi will retain a 12% stake in Activision, best known for their massive hits Code of Duty and World of Warcraft. Long-time Activision boss Bobby Kotick had apparently be looking to buy back control of his company from Vivendi for sometime, so both parties are quite satisfied with the move.
Although Vivendi’s seemingly never-ending mutations as a company are fairly well-known and, perhaps, expected at this point, this move seems to come as a bit of a surprise. According to Reuters, after Vivendi attempted to sell-off a 61% in Activision last year, they changed course a bit and talked up the importance of its media assets to the future of the company. In response to questions around the sell-off, a Vivendi spokesman has stressed that while their content businesses are at the heart of their business, they see their future more in entertainment business focusing on music and television, including their Universal Music Group and Canal Plus businesses.
Vivendi also appears to be changing course somewhat on its telecom activities with the announcement that their currently in talks to sell its stake in Maroc Telecom for a reported 4.2 billion euros and the widely reported SFR-Bouygues network sharing talks currently underway.