Vivendi cashes in post-Blizzard merger

First-half revs rise despite 22.7 percent games-division earnings drop; Lich King still coming in '08.


World of Warcraft

Vivendi Games and Activision shook the industry late last year when they announced plans to join forces to become the largest third-party publisher in the world, in a deal worth $18.9 billion. After a six-month period the union finally became official on July 9.

Following the merger, French media conglomerate Vivendi revealed yesterday that it is in rude health financially. According to the company's half-year earnings report, revenue for the first six months of 2008 is up 10.2 percent from the same period last year, from €10.223 million ($14.91 million) to €11.268 million ($16.44 million).

Despite the increase in group revenue, Vivendi's games division earnings were actually down from the same period in 2007, with EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, and amortisation) dropping 22.7 percent to €92 million ($130 million)--partly due to World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade launching during the same period last year. Vivendi also confirmed the next WOW expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, is on track for release later this year, despite widespread rumors of a delay until Q1 2009.

Chairman of Vivendi's management board Jean-Bernard Levy said in the statement, "Vivendi's performance during the second quarter 2008 reflects the quality and dynamism of our business units in a tighter economic environment...[including] the creation of Activision Blizzard, the global leader in video games publishing, in which Vivendi holds a 54 percent stake."

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