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Rumor: Microsoft Interested In Vivendi Game Publishing Unit

Despite a recent denial from Robbie Bach of Microsoft's Xbox division that the company wasn't interested in large game acquisitions,
today the investment bank Investec said today that it believes Microsoft is talking to Vivendi Universal about purchasing its game business. If it happened -- and neither company will comment on the rumor -- it would be a huge purchase, in the neighborhood of $1-$2 billion. It would include Blizzard Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment and Universal Interactive, and brands like Warcraft, Diablo, Half-Life, Crash Bandicoot, Empire Earth, and Spyro the Dragon, plus the "Lord Of The Rings" book license. Reuters reports that Jeff Van Rhee, Investec's director of enterprise software research, has received indications a deal was in the works. "There was some pretty actionable data that said something had just happened and things were heating up pretty quickly," he told Reuters. In afternoon trading, Vivendi's stock is down 3.5% to $17.55, and Microsoft is down 4.5% to $49.91.

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