NEWS - Sunday, December 2, 2007


Activision and Vivendi Games Announce Merger

Today Activision and Vivendi Games announced they have signed an agreement to combine forces and operate under the new company name Activision Blizzard. In a move that makes Activision Blizzard the world’s largest online and console game publisher, the newly formed company will have access to $3.8 billion in annual revenue for 2007. As is evident under the new name, Blizzard, creators of the world’s most popular MMORPG -- World of Warcraft -- will take a prominent position in the new company.

Under the terms of the deal, Vivendi Games will be merged with Activision, with shares of the publicly traded Vivendi Games converted to shares of Activision common stock at a transaction price of $27.50 per share. Vivendi also agrees to purchase 62.9 million newly issued Activision shares at the price of $27.50 per share, which is the equivalent of $1.7 billion in cash. This means Vivendi will take a 52% ownership stake in the newly formed Activision Blizzard, which will continue to be traded under the symbol ATVI on the NASDAQ index.

The terms of the deal will see current Activision CEO Robert Kotick as head of the new company, with Bruce Hack, Vivendi’s current CEO, to serve as Vice-Chairman and Chief Corporate Officer of Activision Blizzard. Mike Morhaime will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of Blizzard Entertainment.

Robert Kotick had this to say about the pending merger: "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 subscription-based 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."

Kotick continued: "Vivendi Games provides Activision with unique strategic and financial benefits and will allow us to leverage our franchises into emerging online opportunities as Blizzard has done so successfully. Activision has been very focused on margin expansion, and this transaction will meaningfully increase our overall operating margins as we expand our franchises online and in new geographies. Diversifying our revenue base among subscription-based online, console and PC formats, as well as wireless and casual emerging opportunities, gives us the broadest platform to capitalize on industry growth. With Blizzard’s successful franchises, such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft and an exciting pipeline of yet-to-be announced titles, Vivendi Games’ and Blizzard’s management team will join with Activision’s strong and experienced leaders to become an even more powerful force for innovation in online and offline interactive entertainment across a wide range of platforms. This transaction also provides a unique relationship with Universal Music Group - the world’s largest music company - which will benefit Guitar Hero and further extend our sizable leadership position in music-based games."

Mike Morhaime added: "Blizzard’s industry-leading PC games business, with a track record of nine consecutive bestsellers and a global subscriber base of more than 9.3 million World of Warcraft players, is an exceptional fit for Activision’s highly profitable console games business. From our interactions with the Activision team, it is clear we have much in common in terms of our approaches to game development and publishing. Above all, we are looking forward to continue creating great games for Blizzard gamers around the world, and we believe this new partnership will help us to do that even better than before."

While the merger has yet to be officially approved by Activision’s stockholders, the boards of directors of Vivendi, Vivendi Games, and Activision have already accepted the deal.
Source: http://www.ign.com

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