Vivendi Sells $850 Million Stake in ‘Call of Duty’ Maker Activision Blizzard

Call of Duty Black Ops II

Vivendi will cut its stake in Activision Blizzard, the videogame company behind the hit “World of Warcraft” and “Call of Duty” franchises, in a deal worth more than $850 million, the media company said Thursday.

The French company’s decision to divest itself of 41.5 million shares — representing 5.8% — in Activision comes as it is selling non-core assets, such as its telecom holdings, in order to concentrate more on its core media businesses — especially Canal Plus and Universal Music. Vivendi is also undergoing a leadership shift, as Vincent Bolloré takes over as the company’s chairman next month from Jean-René Fourtou.

Following Thursday’s sale, Vivendi will continue to own 41.5 million shares in Activision, that it plans to eventually sell, as well. It can’t offload its remaining 5.8% stake until 2015, according to regulatory rules.

In 2013, Vivendi sold the bulk of its position in Activision back to the company for $8.2 billion. At the time, it owned 61% of Activision. Deal was seen as a way for Activision Blizzard and a group of investors, including company chief Bobby Kotick and co-chairman Brian Kelly, to gain control over the gamemaker.

“This transaction is part of Vivendi’s intention to totally exit the share capital of Activision Blizzard,” the company said in a statement.

Vivendi did not say who was buying its shares in the gamemaker.

The Activision sale is the latest move in recent weeks to restructure its assets. In April, it sold SFR, France’s second-largest phone company, for $23 billion to billionaire Patrick Drahi, and Morroccan phone company Maroc Telecom.

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