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Activision Blizzard Separates From Vivendi in $8.2 Billion Deal

Bobby Kotick and management bought shares for $2.3 billion

France's Vivendi said on Friday that it planned to sell 85 percent of its stake in Activision Blizzard Inc to the video games maker and its management for $8.2 billion.

Activision said early on Friday it would buy back 429 million shares from Vivendi for $5.83 billion.

An investor group led by Chief Executive Bobby Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly has agreed to separately purchase about 172 million Activision shares from Vivendi for $2.34 billion.

The buyback follows weeks of speculation that the French media to telecoms conglomerate was looking for ways to pull cash out of the largest U.S. video games publisher as part of a wider restructuring aimed at cutting debt and refocusing its business.

Still, the move is surprising in some ways, given that Vivendi has talked up its media assets as the company's future and that Activision is its largest and most profitable media asset.

In another prong of the restructuring, Vivendi earlier this week announced it was in exclusive talks to sell its controlling stake in Maroc Telecom for 4.2 billion euros ($5.56 billion).

Vivendi is selling the shares for $13.60 each, a 10 percent discount to Activision's closing price on Thursday.

After the completion of the deal, Vivendi will no longer be the majority shareholder, but will retain a stake of 83 million shares or about 12 percent of Activision.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore and Christian Plumb in Paris; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee and James Regan)