Media conglomerate Vivendi is said to be seeking a buyer for its $8.1 billion stake in Activision Blizzard, according to "a person with knowledge of the situation" speaking to Bloomberg. The company is seeking to sell off its 61 percent majority share to a private buyer, though the plan is to sell the holding off in the market if a buyer cannot be found.
The news comes only days after the CEO's seat was vacated by Jean-Bernard Levy, whose resistance to changing the makeup of Vivendi led to his removal from the position. There is now a call from investors for a restructuring of the company to bring the stock price back from its current nine-year low, and selling off the Activision stake is apparently a part of that.
Industry soothsayer Michael Pachter points out that Vivendi may face a tough time in trying to sell off its investment. "The problem is there are no readily apparent buyers for Activision," he said. "The only option left to Vivendi is to lever up Activision’s balance sheet and pay out all of its cash as a dividend, then spin the company off."
This may all sound rather dry and business-y, but bear in mind that Activision and Vivendi have been in bed together since the 2007 merger that was said to be worth $18.9 billion. Vivendi has, in one way or another, guided the modern face of Activision from behind the scenes for five-plus years now, and it will be fascinating to see how the game publisher moves forward from here, especially if no one buyer steps up to purchase a controlling interest in the company.