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Activision Blizzard settles with shareholders over stock buyback

A class action lawsuit arose when the mega-publisher negotiated with former majority stakeholder Vivendi -- but the company now says that it's in the clear.
Activision Blizzard seems to have gotten out from under the legal trouble that reared up when the company got out from under French conglomerate Vivendi, which had been its majority shareholder. The two companies split last year. As part of the split, CEO Bobby Kotick formed an investor group to buy a large number of Activision Blizzard shares from Vivendi; that caused both internal strife and resulted in multiple lawsuits by shareholders who felt they didn't have a fair chance to weigh in on the deal (this story covers the complaint that's the basis for this settlement, which was later joined with others). Under the terms of the proposed settlement, which has yet to be ratified by the Delaware courts, an unspecified group of defendants in the case would pay Activision Blizzard $275 million, alongside "multiple" insurance companies. Left out of Activision's statement is why, exactly, it gets the windfall, and precisely who pays it -- Activision Blizzard itself is one of the defendants, as are some of its executives, as well as Vivendi executives and other investors. The court documents will reveal those details in time. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard would pay plaintiffs' attorney fees; the company also will add two new directors to its board and adjust shareholder voting rights, presumably in an effort to make things more fair to shareholders in general. As is customary with an out-of-court settlement, all defendants (including Activision) would be released from the case's claims. After the Kotick-led deal, Vivendi later announced plans to sell off even more of its Activision Blizzard stock -- this time to the public.

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