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Shareholder has filed complaint against buy back of Activision Blizzard

Game Industry News

by Brendan Sinclair

A brave shareholder filed a complaint alleging conflicts of interest, unjust enrichment, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Cash-strapped Vivendi "found" a buyer for Activision Blizzard last week when it announced a deal to sell most of its stake to two parties: the publisher itself, and an investment group led by current Activision Blizzard executives Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly. That proposal has met some resistance, as Courthouse News reports that Activision Blizzard shareholder Todd Miller has filed a complaint against the company to stop the deal from going through.


Conflicts of interest, unjust enrichment, and breach of fiduciary duty by current Activision Blizzard executive Bobby Kotick ^


The suit alleges breach of fiduciary duties, waste of corporate assets and unjust enrichment on the parts of Vivendi as well as Activision Blizzard and its board of directors. The plaintiff claims the deal shortchanges shareholders by selling 172 million shares to Kotick and Kelly's investment group at a 10 percent discount on the company's closing price the day before the deal was announced. That discount effectively gives the group an instant windfall of $664 million, allowing Kotick and Kelly to take control of the company without benefiting Activision Blizzard or its existing shareholders, according to the complaint. (If the deal goes through, the investment group would be Activision Blizzard's largest shareholder.)

"There was no apparent business purpose in allowing the insider investor group to participate in the discounted stock offering, other than to aggrandize defendants Kotick and Kelly and provide billions of dollars' worth of Activision stock to the insider investor group at a discounted price," the lawsuit states.

As for Vivendi, Miller claims the company is desperate for cash due to $17 billion in debt, a situation that created conflicts of interest for the majority of Activision Blizzard's board of directors, six of whom currently serve as board members or executives at Vivendi. Miller argues that situation made them beholden to Vivendi rather than Activision shareholders, and notes they will all be retiring from their roles on Activision's board if the buyback goes through.

Miller is asking for the transaction to be rescinded and for a judge to prohibit such "one-sided self-dealing" in the future. Activision had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.

Kotick buys Activision back....

Game Industry News

by Vrandas

Kotick Activision 2013

Years back Mister Bobby Kotick set himself the goal of becoming King of the Gaming Universe. And it seems that now is the right time to take it all to the next level. So Bobby Kotick leads the $8.2 billion buyout (buyback) from Vivendi and Activision Blizzard will become an "independent" company again...

Activision Blizzard, the game-publisher of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft , will buy 439 million shares from Vivendi for $5.83 billion. In addition, an investment group lead by Kotick and co-chairman Brian Kelly, will purchase 172 million shares worth $2.34 billion.

With Vivendi no longer a major stakeholder, Activision Blizzard becomes an independent company led by Kotick and Kelly, whose investment group also includes Chinese operator Tencent, Davis Advisors and Leonard Green & Partners. 

 The blablabla comment from Kotick : 

"These transactions together represent a tremendous opportunity for Activision Blizzard and all its shareholders, including Vivendi," said Kotick...

"We should emerge even stronger-an independent company with a best-in-class franchise portfolio and the focus and flexibility to drive long-term shareholder value and expand our leadership position as one of the world's most important entertainment companies. The transactions announced today will allow us to take advantage of attractive financing markets while still retaining more than $3 billion cash on hand to preserve financial stability."

Kotick added, "Our successful combination with Blizzard Entertainment five years ago brought together some of the best creative and business talent in the industry and some of the most beloved entertainment franchises in the world, including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Since that time, we have generated over $5.4 billion in operating cash flow and returned more than $4 billion of that to shareholders via buybacks and dividends. We are grateful for Vivendi's partnership through this period, and we look forward to their continued support."

Kotick's investment group will hold around 24.9 per cent of the company, with Kotick and Kelly investing $100 million combined of their own cash. Vivendi will continue to hold around 12 per cent of shares.  

  Question remains :   How many shares does Kotick still hide in his bedside cabinet ?  As a vast majority of Kotick's earnings always got paid out in company stock...

The Birth of Respawn and the gameTitanfall

Game Industry News

by Ben Hanson

Vince Zampella and Jason West developed the most successful franchise of the generation, then they were fired. The creators of Call of Duty founded a new studio called Respawn Entertainment, signed a publishing deal with Electronic Arts, and were given carte blanche to create a new IP.

We visited the studio and talked with the team about the long and painful process of building a new game, and Respawn also granted us access to concept art and studio photographs from the earliest days of Titanfall.

Watch the video feature below to learn how the team started in an office without electricity and ended up creating game of the show for E3 2013.



More about the creators of Call of Duty and game publisher Activision dumping them in read more.

Sony and their In-Game Advertising Patent & Cloud Gaming

Game Industry News

Recently discovered on Google Patents, a patent that Sony Computer Entertainment America filed on November 10, 2011 shows that they plan to interrupt game play to bring advertisements.


interrupt game play to bring advertisements.


Seems it will only occur in online multiplayer games and will happen to all players simultaneously.

And a rumour...

Sony will unveil cloud gaming for Playstation 3 at the E3 2012 on June 5-7 at the Los Angeles Convention center.

The potential cloud gaming deal is likely to be with either Gaikai or OnLive allowing streamed games on PlayStation branded hardware.

But first on June 4...  the Sony press conference.

West, Zampella settle with Activision in Infinity Ward lawsuit

Ex-Infinity Ward employees Jason West and Vince Zampella have settled their lawsuit with Activision.

West & Zampella


'All parties have reached a settlement in the dispute, the terms of which are strictly confidential.'

West and Zampella sued Activision in 2010, after Activision fired them and before they could collect all the promised royalties from the launch of Modern Warfare 2, they claimed.

Activision paid $42 million to the Infinity Ward Employee Group -- which includes 38 current and former IW employees -- in May, as part of a separate lawsuit. The payment wasn't a settlement, but was part of Activision's own investigation for its counter-suit against West and Zampella, filed with their new publisher, EA, as a defendant.

EA and Activision settled their suit in May, while West and Zampella's claim rose to $1 billion. Claims in all three lawsuits are now dismissed.

There is no word yet on the terms of the settlement, and they may not ever be revealed, Fritz says, although this observation from the court room may provide a bit of insight into the final outcome: "Jason West is in court and smiling."

Respawn Entertainment issued the following statement: "All parties to the litigation have reached a settlement of the dispute, the terms of which are strictly confidential."

Activision issued a statement as well: "Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ATVI) today announced that all parties to the litigation have reached a settlement of the dispute, the terms of which are strictly confidential.

"The company does not believe that the incremental one-time charges related to the settlement will result in a material impact on its GAAP or non-GAAP earnings per share outlook for the current quarter or the calendar year, due to stronger-than-expected operating performance in the current quarter."

Not to be forgotten, EA has chimed in, too:

"Activision's refusal to pay their talent and attempt to blame EA were absurd. This settlement is a vindication of Vince and Jason, and the right of creative artists to collect the rewards due for their hard work."

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