Vivendi Universal Games division up for sale?

A Wall Street Journal suggests that the Vivendi Universal Games division--which includes Blizzard, Sierra, and Universal--might go on sale as Vivendi attempts to clear its massive debt.

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Vivendi Universal, the troubled conglomerate that owns telecommunications, movie, music, game, and cable companies, saw its share prices jump on Wednesday and continue to climb this week after the Wall Street Journal reported that Vivendi was hoping to sell its US video game assets for up to $1.94 billion. Vivendi is struggling to deal with debts totaling around $18.43 billion and underwent a leadership shake-up last month when its CEO resigned.

Representatives for Vivendi have so far declined to comment on the rumors concerning the company's successful Vivendi Universal Games division, which it's estimated generates around $600 million a year in revenue. The Vivendi Universal Games division is made up of three major publishers: Blizzard, Sierra, and Universal Interactive. Sierra and Blizzard were previously owned by Havas and Cendant.

If the division were to be put on the market, it's expected that a number of the larger game companies would be quick to take an interest, not least because of Sierra's Half-Life series of games and Blizzard's Warcraft series--the third incarnation of which was recently released and is still hanging onto the number one spot in the sales charts after almost a month on sale.

Financial analysts have pointed to a few potential buyers for the three publishers, including the likes of Sega, Electronic Arts, Sony, and Microsoft. Sony and Microsoft could be interested in securing exclusive big-name games for their PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles. We'll have more on this as details become available.

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