Could Halo and Call of Duty one day be made under the same roof? Reuters reports that Vivendi has enlisted the help of a bank to speak with potential buyers for Activision Blizzard, and the list includes Microsoft, Time Warner, Tencent, and a group of private equity firms.
"It's nothing official yet, but they've asked a bank to go and talk to possible buyers for Activision," a source close to Vivendi's board told the news agency.
Vivendi presently owns a 60 percent stake in Activision Blizzard and stands to raise close to $10 billion by offloading the company, the sources said.
While Microsoft has the capital to purchase Activision Blizzard, the source told Reuters the Seattle technology giant is currently focused on building its next-generation Xbox.
"They probably don't want to distract themselves too much, but they are the ones who, if they want to stay in games, would think about owning some of these big franchises, not just providing the consoles," the source said.
As for Tencent, earlier this month, Activision Blizzard announced a deal with the Chinese company to bring Call of Duty: Online to China as a free-to-play game. However, a banker speaking to Reuters believes Tencent taking full ownership of Activision Blizzard would be a "big step" because of the companies' varying business models.
"[Activision Blizzard] have two big franchises, Call of Duty on the console side and World of WarCraft on the MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) side. And China is not a big market for console businesses; online games are much bigger for various reasons," said the unnamed banker.
A Microsoft representative told GameSpot, “Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
Despite Activision Blizzard's success with the Call of Duty series and World of Warcraft, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter suggested in June that Vivendi might not have many suitors for the game maker.
"The problem is there are no readily apparent buyers for Activision," Pachter said at the time. "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."
[UPDATE] Pachter continues to hold this belief, telling GameSpot this morning that none of the above-mentioned companies are in a position to acquire Activision Blizzard.
"None of those make sense," he said. "TenCent is the only one actively acquiring, and they make much smaller acquisitions. Time Warner has never spent more than $150 million on game investments. Microsoft would lose a lot of value if Call of Duty was Xbox only. None of these are buyers."
It first came out that Vivendi was looking to offload Activision Blizzard in June, when a Bloomberg report stated Vivendi's board was planning to meet to discuss selling its majority stake in the game maker. Later that month, Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy was ousted for butting heads with the board regarding the firm's restructuring plans. And a new report suggested if a single buyer could not be found, the company would look to unload its shares on the open market.