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Activision purchases Major League Gaming

Activision purchases Major League Gaming

January 4, 2016 | By Chris Kerr

Update: Activision Blizzard has confirmed its purchase of MLG's business. The company did not share a dollar amount or other financial details of the transaction in its press release.

The MLG brand will continue, and according to Activision, the company will continue offering MLG services to other game publishers. The company has retained "the entire MLG eSports team," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick noted in his statement on the acquisition. 

"Our acquisition of Major League Gaming's business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of eSports. MLG's ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform -- including its live streaming capabilities -- strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming," Kotick said in the statement.

The departure of MLG co-founder and CEO Sundance DiGiovanni, which was referenced in the below report, is not noted in the official news -- in fact, DiGiovanni is quoted in the press release from Activision Blizzard. 

MLG will fall under the company's new eSports division, established late last year with the hire of former ESPN and NFL Network CEO, Steve Bornstein as its head. MLG co-founder Mike Sepso, who joined Activision Blizzard at the division's establishment, serves as its senior vice president. 

Update 2: The New York Times confirms the $46 million number in its report on the acquisition. The company has hatched plans to create a cable and satellite TV channel, the NYT reports. "I have a simple vision for this. I want to build the ESPN of video games," Kotick told the newspaper. The NYT's story confirms that MLG co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni will join Activision Blizzard. 

Our earlier report follows. 

Report: Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard has agreed to purchase the majority of North American eSports outfit Major League Gaming's assets for $46 million, the eSports Observer has reported

Although neither party has confirmed the deal, the eSports Observer managed to get a copy of a letter sent to MLG stockholders informing them of the sale, revealing that "Activision paid the Corporation [MLG] $46 million in cash and assumed specific liabilities."

The letter suggests that Activision coughed up $31 million on December 22, 2015, and that a good portion of the money will be used to wipe away MLG's debt and guard against even more losses.  

"$31 million of the cash purchase price was paid to or on behalf of the Corporation, or used to discharge certain liabilities of the Corporation on December 22, 2015," reads the letter. 

"The remaining $15 million is being held in escrow and is subject to potential claims for indemnification." 

According to eSports Observer the majority of stockholders weren't consulted about the sale, which has been sanctioned under Section 228(e) of the Delaware General Corporation Law as a “corporate action taken without a stockholders’ meeting by less than unanimous written consent of our stockholders."

It's also being reported that MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni has been let go and replaced by the company's former CFO, Greg Chisholmn. 

Again, neither company has confirmed that any sale has been made, although considering that Activision recently set up its own dedicated eSports division - run, in part, by MLG co-founder Mike Sepso - it's easy to see why a deal would interest the publisher.

We've reached out to Activision and MLG for more information and will update the story accordingly.

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