Last July's merger of Vivendi Games and Activision created the world's biggest third-party publisher. During its 2008 fiscal year, it took in $2.9 billion, thanks to massive sales of Call of Duty: World at War, World of Warcraft, and the Guitar Hero franchise.
But as big as Activision Blizzard is, it is dwarfed by its majority shareholder, Vivendi SA, which profited handsomely from the merger. The massive French multinational took in €25.39 billion ($33.9 billion) last year from its broad array of holdings, including direct subsidiaries French television network Canal+ Group and record label Universal Music Group. The company also has a 20 percent stake in US film studio/TV network NBC Universal.
Despite Activision Blizzard's small size relative to Vivendi, the latter's chief executive officer is taking a more hands-on approach to managing the company. Today, Vivendi announced that CEO Jean-Bernard Levy will become the next chairman of Activision Blizzard's board of directors. The 54-year-old Levy will step into the role currently held by the retiring senior executive vice president of Vivendi's human-resources division, Rene Penisson.
Currently, Levy is one of the 11 directors on Activision Blizzard's board. Although Levy will be chairing the board, Robert Kotick will continue on as the publisher's CEO--the same position he held at premerger Activision since 1991. Kotick also holds a seat on the board and is one of five directors who originally came from Activision.