July 26 - French conglomerate Vivendi is selling most of its stake in Activision Blizzard Inc, best known for its video games - Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Vivendi says it sees its future in content being centred on its music and pay TV businesses, as Joanne Nicholson reports.
Blockbuster video games played the world over - the likes of World of Warcraft and Call of Duty are worth billions. Now French media giant, Vivendi, is selling the bulk of its stake in the creator of those games, Activision Blizzard. It's letting go of an 85 per cent stake for $8.2 billion - at $13.60 per share that's a ten per cent dicount on Thursday's closing price. It's the second big announcement from the company in recent days - earlier in the week Vivendi said it was in talks to sell its controlling stake in Maroc Telecom. Pierre Briancon is from Reuters Breaking Views (SOUNDBITE) (English) PIERRE BRIANÇON, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS EUROPEAN EDITOR, SAYING: "What's really happening at the company is a changing of the guard. People on the board and on the management side are like the space cowboys. Old guys from the French corporate world who turned the company around, cleaned up its finances, changed the strategy when it appeared the telecom thing was not working. They were too small a player in a fast restructuring telecom market." The deal shows Vivendi's long-awaited overhaul is gathering pace 18 months after Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou pushed to sort out the company's different business interests. It had suffered a long share price slump. Vivendi's move has surprised some because the company has talked up its media assets as the firm's future. But it says it will use the proceeds from the sale to pay off some of its debts. It will keep a 12 percent stake so will continue to benefit from the growth of Activision Blizzard's business. Vivendi now wants to focus on its Universal Music group business and its pay television business - Canal Plus. The Activision deal is the fruit of months of talks between the parent company and the management of the video games maker led by long-time boss Bobby Kotick. Kotick's aim was always to buy back the company he'd built up since 1991.