The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Vivendi may force Activision Blizzard to pay a special dividend that would give the company $2 – $3 billion to help it pay down some of its debt. The company's board will discuss the move at a regular meeting on Monday and may seek Activison's board members to approve it at a meeting later this week, WSJ claims in its report. Since six of eleven Activision board members are from the Vivendi group or its units such a vote would likely be approved. The company is also in the "advanced stages" of selling off its 53 percent stake in telecommunications firm Maroc Telecom to Etisalat ETEL.AD.
Of course this isn't a buyout for Activision, and even though Activision Blizzard would rather spend that money (it has $4.3 billion in cash on hand) to break away from its European owner, Vivendi would rather just take the money to pay down debt before it even considered a buyout. The concern is that in order to get out from Vivendi, Activision would likely have to take on some debt and taking on debt during a new transitional period caused by next-gen consoles is seriously risky business.