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In December 2007, Activision announced that the company and its assets would
merge with fellow games developer and publisher, Vivendi Games. Ren¨¦ Penisson,
formerly a member of the Management Board of Vivendi and Chairman of Vivendi
Games, would serve as Chairman of Activision Blizzard. Bobby Kotick, once head
of Activision, was announced to become President and CEO of Activision Blizzard.
In April 2008, the European Commission permitted the merger to take place. The commission essentially needed to approve that there weren't any antitrust issues in the merger deal.5 On July 8, 2008, Activision announced that stockholders had agreed to merge. The deal closed on July 9, 2008, and the total transaction was an estimated $18.9 billion.6 Vivendi was the majority shareholder, with a 52% stake in the company.6 The rest of the shares were held by institutional and private investors and continue to be traded on the NASDAQ stock market, for the first 10 trading days post closing as ATVID, and subsequently as ATVI. Jean-Bernard Levy will replace Ren¨¦ Penisson as chairman of Activision Blizzard.7
Activision and Blizzard Entertainment still exist as separate entities.8 The holding company does not publish games under its central name and instead uses its subsidiaries to publish games, similar to how Vivendi Games operated before the merger.9 The merger makes Activision parent company of Vivendi Games' former divisions until July 24, 2013.
While Blizzard retained its autonomy and corporate leadership, other Vivendi Games divisions did not. For example, long-time label Sierra ceased operation. With the merger, there was a rumor that if a Sierra product did not meet Activision's requirements, they "won't likely be retained."10 Some of Sierra's games such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Prototype have been retained and are now published by Activision.11 Also, due to the closure of Sierra, the Sierra Community Forums servers have been shut down as of November 1, 2008.
Shortly after the conclusion of the merger, Thomas Tippl, CFO, alluded to future layoffs stating that the company "will exterminate some of our overlap through redundancy ¨C but we will treat people fairly and respectfully in that process."13 Also, games such as Br¨¹tal Legend, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, World in Conflict: Soviet Assault, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Zombie Wranglers, Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust and Wet were all dropped from the publisher to be picked up by other companies.
On July 25, 2013, Activision Blizzard announced the purchase of 429 million shares from owner Vivendi for $5.83 billion, dropping the shareholder from a 63% stake to just 12% by the end of the deal in September. Following the conclusion of the deal, Activision Blizzard became an independent company as a majority of the shares are owned by the public. Bobby Kotick, along with Brian Kelly and other investors such as Tencent own a 24.9% stake in the company. In addition, Kotick remains the President and CEO, with Brian Kelly taking over as the Chairman.14 On October 12, 2013, shortly after approval from the Delaware Supreme court, the company completed the buyback, along the lines of the original plan. Download