Activision Blizzard merger official

Business combination that unites Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft under one roof is now a done deal.

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It's official: Activision Inc. and Vivendi Games are now defunct nomenclature. After shareholders handily signed off on the merger at a meeting yesterday, French megacorp Vivendi SA and Activision said today that they had completed the transaction to create Activision Blizzard. The newly formed company will retain Activision's current headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

"We have created the world leader in online and console games with this transaction, and the combined strengths of the two businesses offer immense growth potential," gushed Vivendi SA CEO Jean-Bernard Levy. "I am also very confident that, with the new leadership team in place, the new entity is perfectly positioned to take advantage of these rapidly developing markets across the globe."

Former top Activision man and newly installed Activision Blizzard president and CEO Robert Kotick issued an equally glowing statement, vaunting the publisher's prime position in the console and online PC space. "With more than 10.7 million subscribers on World of Warcraft, and with tens of millions of people playing Guitar Hero, Activision Blizzard's games are transcending the traditional stereotypes and are more popular as a form of entertainment than ever before," he said. "We look forward to building upon our brands to create value for our shareholders, customers, and consumers."

With the merger now closed, Activision Blizzard is expected to surpass publishing kingpin Electronic Arts as the world's most lucrative third-party game-software publisher. As per today's announcement, the business combination brings together a number of top-selling franchises under one roof. Considering statistics from a variety of global stat-tracking organizations, those number-one ranked brands include Guitar Hero for family entertainment and music-based gaming, World of Warcraft in subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing games, Spider-Man in superhero games, Tony Hawk in the action sports genre, Cabela's in sports hunting, and Call of Duty in first-person action.

As per the original terms of the deal first announced in December, Vivendi SA has contributed the entirety of its Vivendi Games subdivision--worth $8.1 billion--as well as $1.7 billion to acquire a 52 percent controlling stake in Activision Blizzard. The French megacorp will in the next few days attempt to expand its hold to a possible 68 percent through a $4 billion all-cash tender offer, made to current Activision shareholders at the agreed-upon price of $27.50 per share.

Although that buyout offer was a handsome premium on Activision's approximately $21-per-share sticker price in December, it is unlikely that Vivendi will find many takers in the present. Activision's stock has maintained a steady climb since the merger was initially announced, and as of press time today, the publisher's stock was trading in excess of $32 on the NASDAQ exchange. Activision Blizzard will continue to operate as a publicly traded company on NASDAQ under the ATVI ticker symbol after the merger.

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