Credit to fund Activision, Neuf Cegetel deals

PARIS — Vivendi has secured a Euros 3.5 billion ($5.08 billion) loan to back its acquisition of controlling stakes in U.S.-based vidgame maker Activision and French phone operator Neuf Cegetel.

The loan, which will shortly be syndicated to a wider group of still undisclosed banks, is being arranged by Societe Generale, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Fortis Bank.

The deal consists of a Euros 1.5 billion ($2.18 billion) bridging loan, repayable via a rights issue on achieving a controlling interest in Neuf Cegetel, and Euros 2 billion ($2.9 billion) in revolving credit.

Vivendi owns 40.5% of Neuf Cegetel, and is trying to obtain a further 29.5% from the Louis Dreyfus Group.

On Dec. 2, Vivendi and Activision announced their intention to create the largest vidgame company in the world not owned by a games console maker.

The U.S. company is the publisher of one of the industry’s global bestsellers, “Guitar Hero,” the third version of which sold more than $115 million in its first week after its launch in early November.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the $29 billion Paris-based entertainment and telecom conglomerate will exchange its Vivendi Games division and $1.7 billion in cash for a 52% stake in the new company, to be called Activision Blizzard.

Vivendi has specialized in multi-player games such as “World of Warcraft,” which has over 9.3 million subscribers worldwide.

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