The Activision Blizzard majority stakeholder is selling his 61% stake and the banks are currently searching for a potential buyer.
This could turn out to be a good thing depending on who buys them. So far Tencent Holdings Ltd (TCTZF.PK) and Time Warner Inc. (TWX) are speculated to be among the potential buyers.
On the Tencent front, Activision Blizzard recently announced a long-term strategic relationship with Tencent to bring Call of Duty Online to China.
Activision Blizzard shareholders could in some ways benefit if Tencent acquired that 61% stake, expanding Activision properties in China, and Tencent gaining a stronger foothold on the Americas and Europe markets.
In terms of Blizzard games, it’s unclear how that translates into — considering NetEase holds the rights to operate Battle.net and the latest Blizzard games in Mainland China for the next three years.
On the Time Warner front, things sound really good. Time Warner owns DC Comics, New Line Cinema, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. Animations, AOL, HBO and other subsidiaries. There’s a deep relationship between Blizzard Entertainment and DC Comics since 2007.
New Line and Warner Bros. Pictures are partners with … Legendary Pictures (who holds the license to develop the World of Warcraft film). StarCraft and Diablo films?
I could see a good relationship for Activision Blizzard and Time Warner bringing Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft animated series to the TV through Warner Bros Animations and Cartoon Network.
I’d really love to watch those, regardless.
A third prospect to possibly buy this 61% stake is worrysome: Microsoft. We have seen Microsoft shutdown studios quite often, or develop XBox 360 exclusive video games. Blizzard develops games for PC/Mac. Blizzard develops for a wide-range of systems. Microsoft would want support for older Windows OS discontinued in support to promoting Windows 8 sales.
There could be controversy among players and shareholders if Microsoft landed the cash to buy it. However, this is all speculation and none of it is a fact.
Back when Vivendi was searching for buyers of the VUGames division Microsoft was among the potential speculated buyers but that did never come to happen. Vivendi decided to do a merger with Activision to create Activision Blizzard.
So far Activision would be the first candidate to buy the 61% stake (valued at $8.2 billions), but today Activision reported to have only $3 billion in cash and might need to borrow the difference. If that fails, the stake would be up in the air for public sale. As of right now, Tencent, Microsoft and Time Warner are considering it, but it’s unlikely either could come forward with $8.2 billions.
Eldorian just told me our videocast show host Chris “The Bearded Gamer” Arnone was recently talking about the Activision Blizzard 61% stake sale in his personal show. Check it out, and subscribe to his personal channel. He’s currently giving away a Razer Taipan Mouse ($80 value).
Eldorian said: “I think whoever buys Activision-Blizzard won’t affect Blizzard Entertainment much at all… I think they’ll leave them alone for the most part.” The Bearded Gamer thinks likewise.
The success of Blizzard games over the past 20 years dwell on publishers letting Blizzard Entertainment do what they do, at their own pace. Whoever ends up buying the 61% will see the value in doing that.
Personally, Activision knows how the business works and Mike Morhaime already has an established relationship with the executives. Hopefully, it all stays home. Borrowing the remaining $5 billion is no easy feat, but with the revenue from Call of Duty, Skylanders, the Marvel licensed games, and the roster of Blizzard games to back them up they might be able to get a bank loan to own Activision Blizzard entirely. Otherwise, I’d be thrilled to see how Time Warner and its subsidiaries interact and expand the Blizzard properties outside of the game.
For those who didn’t know anything about this 61% stake sale, it all started at the end of June 2012. Here are some links to entertain you: