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Viacom Searching For Buyer That Will Be 'Better Fit' For Harmonix

Viacom Searching For Buyer That Will Be 'Better Fit' For Harmonix

November 16, 2010 | By Kris Graft

November 16, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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"Several companies" have expressed interest in buying Cambridge, MA-based Rock Band developer Harmonix, which parent company Viacom put up for sale earlier this month.

In an interview at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council event on Tuesday, the media giant's CEO Philippe Dauman commented on the multiple possible bidders and said, "As we looked forward, we thought a better home for it would be a company that has the scale and the expertise in the games business."

Dauman did not reveal which companies are interested in buying the developer, which was reportedly being shopped around as early as September this year to video game companies and private equity firms. He did say he hopes to sell the studio "quickly," howver.

Harmonix recently released rhythm games Rock Band 3 and Dance Central to critical acclaim. It's also the creator of the Activsion-owned Guitar Hero franchise, and previously created music games including Frequency, Amplitude and Karaoke Revolution.

Viacom subsidiary MTV Games bought Harmonix in September 2006 for $175 million, plus hundreds of millions of dollars in possible performance-based earnouts in a time where games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero were approaching the height of their popularity.

But music game revenues have seen persistent declines sincethen, and in August Viacom said "softness in the disc-based video game industry" was having a negative effect on Harmonix's value as a studio.

Prior to Rock Band 3, Harmonix collaborated with music icons The Beatles for The Beatles: Rock Band, released last September.

At the time of Viacom's announcement that the studio would go up for sale, Harmonix rep John Drake stated, "Viacom is in discussions with several potential buyers and will continue to fully support the business until a sale is completed."


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