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Court clears the way for $8.2-billion Activision-Vivendi deal

Court clears the way for $8.2-billion Activision-Vivendi deal
A scene from the Activision video game "Call of Duty: Ghosts." (AP)

The Delaware Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that halted video game publisher Activision Blizzard and a group of investors from buying most of Vivendi's majority stake in the company.

The unanimous Thursday decision clears the way for Santa Monica-based Activision -- the company behind the "Call of Duty" franchise -- and the investor group to close the $8.2-billion deal that will leave Paris-based Vivendi with a 12% stake in the company.

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This reverses last month's decision by the Delaware Chancery Court that preliminarily enjoined the transaction after Douglas Hayes, an Activision shareholder, sued the company, Vivendi and the investor group. In the suit, Hayes contended the deal should have been put to Activision's shareholders for a majority vote. 
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In an order, the Delaware high court's chief justice Myron T. Steele said Thursday the transaction does not require the approval of non-Vivendi shareholders. 
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Shares of Activision rose nearly 5% to $17.05. The share price has increased nearly 50% over the last year. 
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"A large overhang is removed," said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst who follows the company. "We have remained confident that the transactions would eventually close."

Pachter rates Activision's shares "outperform" and has a price target of $22.

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Activision said in July that it would acquire 429 million shares from the Paris company for about $5.83 billion in cash, or $13.60 a share, as Vivendi is looking to shed assets.

Separately, Activision Chief Executive Bobby Kotick, Co-Chairman Brian Kelly and their investor group would buy about 172 million shares from Vivendi at a cost of $2.34 billion.

The deal is expected to close next week.

Representatives for Activision did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did a representative for Hayes.

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