The lights are on
After failing to find a buyer for its controlling shares in Activision
Blizzard, Vivendi may take out a gigantic loan in the publisher's name for some
much-needed financial relief.
According to the Financial
Times (via Reuters),
Vivendi will gain new managerial powers over Activision Blizzard tomorrow, the
closing date of the 2007 Activision/Vivendi merger. The merger gave Vivendi a
61-percent stake in Activision.
Speaking with Joystiq,
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter describes a potential scenario in
which Vivendi can now take out a massive loan in Activision's name and then pay
itself an equally sizable dividend. "Borrowing of $5 billion would permit
a dividend of $8.5 billion," Pachter states. "As the holder of 61 percent of
Activision's common stock at March 31, 2013, we estimate Vivendi would receive
approximately $5.2 billion in cash, easing its mounting debt concerns."
The move would leave Activision with a mountain of debt to overcome, while Vivendi
uses the payoff to get its own finances in order.
In May, Activision announced a strong
financial start to 2013, but warned that the second half of the year would
be challenging due to competing IPs. The financial move Vivendi is
reportedly considering could have a serious impact on Activision's outlook for
the year, but that may be a trade off Vivendi is willing to take.
[Source: Financial Times, via Reuters Additional information via Joystiq]
Our TakeWhile some gamers would celebrate any financial hardship
that Activision may find itself in, I think today's report is terrible news. Activision's latest earnings call reiterated the company's strategy to avoid
making risky decisions. Gamers may decry the company's reliance on annual
sequels, but those games – which still provide plenty of enjoyment to players –
provide a steady source of income that keeps hundreds of talented programmers
and artists in business. Despite Activision's efforts to avoid it, the company
may get stuck with a huge amount of debt, through little fault of its own. Only
Vivendi stands to gain from that scenario.
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