Vivendi Sells Its Activision Stake, Netting $1.1 Billion

  • Gamemaker's stock price almost doubled in the past year
  • Chairman Bollore has recently focused on Europe investments

Vivendi SA sold its remaining 5.7 percent stake in Activision Blizzard Inc., resulting in net proceeds of $1.1 billion, after shares of the U.S. maker of video games almost doubled in the past year.

Vivendi also unwound a hedge it had placed on the stake, allowing it to recover a cash deposit of $400 million, the Paris-based media and entertainment company said in a statement Friday. Vivendi sold the shares to a financial institution that it didn’t identify. The company didn’t specify the per-share price of the sale.

“The decision to implement these transactions was taken in view of the evolution of the Activision Blizzard stock price,” Vivendi said.

Chairman Vincent Bollore has sold some telecommunications and gaming assets while making acquisitions elsewhere as part of a plan to invest in digital media distribution and content. Vivendi, whose businesses include Universal Music Group and the pay-TV service Canal Plus, used to control Activision but gradually pared its stake over the past few years.

Shares of Vivendi advanced 0.7 percent to 18.96 euros at 9:15 a.m. in Paris. The stock has lost 8 percent in the past 12 months. Activision shares added 91 percent over that period.

Late last year, Vivendi bought shares in Telecom Italia SpA, Italy’s largest phone company, and French game studios Ubisoft Entertainment SA and Gameloft SE. In November, the company said it will consider investments in 2016 and 2017 that will strengthen its digital distribution of music and differentiate its pay-TV offering through content and access platforms.

Santa Monica, California-based Activision, whose video-game franchises include Call of Duty and Skylanders, has boosted its stock price as it has diversified beyond traditional game console discs in favor of monthly subscriptions and in-game purchases.

Vivendi bought a majority of Activision in 2008, contributing its own $8.1 billion video-game business and $1.7 billion in cash for a 52 percent stake.

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