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Viacom Sues Former Harmonix Shareholders For $131M
Viacom Sues Former Harmonix Shareholders For $131M
September 20, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

September 20, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Viacom is making good on its claims that former stockholders of Rock Band developer Harmonix owe it money, filing a lawsuit Friday to the tune of $131 million.

Specifically, the company is seeking over $131M of the nearly $150M it paid to Harmonix shareholders in anticipation of 2007 earn-outs, claiming that the sum is a "refund" for earn-out bonuses paid to shareholders "to which they are not entitled."

According to Viacom, the approximately $150M payment was determined by "preliminary calculation" for performance-based payments, which it says were miscalculated: allegedly, it has since determined that the actual earn-out payment due to Harmonix was actually just $18 million, and is seeking to have the remaining balance returned.

While Viacom says it paid too much, the former shareholders say they weren't paid enough, and filed their own suit against Viacom last year, which accused the then-current parent company of trying to scheme its way out of paying performance-based bonuses by manipulating costs.

The dispute has been under review by a resolution accountant since December, but has not yet been resolved.

Viacom offloaded Harmonix on the cheap early this year, which earned the company a major tax benefit of approximately $115 million dollars.

For more information on the history of Viacom's Harmonix acquisition and the previously filed lawsuit, refer to Gamasutra's extensive report.

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Ron Alpert
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"to the TUNE of $131 million." <--- I see what you did there

But seriously... seriously? Geez... sorry you messed up! That's quite a hefty sum to "miscalculate," and it's probably a bit late now to easily repair (and repay) the giant mess that has ensued. This is just some more corporate BS which sounds like a lot of finger-pointing "wellll, we expected to make so much more money and didn't realize how much it costs to make games, license music, and market things." Sadly, this is hardly trivial, and the last couple of years bureaucratic blunders like this have closed down more than a few fairly significant studios. What's that someone said recently, "be careful not to make too much money..."

Craig Page
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Oh wow, can I buy some Viacom stock? It seems like such a well run company...