And, in wsj.com
BUSINESS | Updated July 26, 2013, 2:04 a.m. ET
Activision to Buy Back Most of Vivendi's Controlling Stake
Vivendi to Keep 12%, but Its Representatives on Activision's Board Are Expected to Step Down
By IAN SHERR And SAM SCHECHNER
Activision Blizzard Inc. said it has reached an agreement to buy back nearly $6 billion worth of Vivendi SA's holding in the company, ending months of negotiations over the fate of the videogame giant.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Activision said Thursday it will buy 429 million shares for about $13.60 per share, reducing Paris-based conglomerate Vivendi from being majority shareholder. Activision said it would fund the purchase with $1.2 billion in cash on hand from its domestic accounts and approximately $4.6 billion in debt financing from banks including J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
While the purchase price represents a haircut on the current value of Activision's shares, which closed down 1.3% at $15.18 Thursday, Vivendi said in a statement that it is above the historical average for the videogame company.
Activision, best known for its "Call of Duty" war-simulation games and "World of Warcraft" online fantasy franchise, had $4.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of March, but $2.7 billion is held offshore and would be subject to U.S. taxes if repatriated, according to company filings.
In a separate transaction, Vivendi is also selling 172 million shares—about $2.3 billion worth at $13.60 a share—to an investment group led by Bobby Kotick, Activision's chief executive, and Brian Kelly, the company's co-chairman. The two men committed a combined $100 million to the effort. That group will hold 24% of the Activision's shares, making it the largest shareholder.
Vivendi said it will continue to hold about 83 million shares, or 12% of the company, and has pledged to retain its shares in a staggered 15-month lockup. The deal is expected to close in September.