UPDATE 5-Vivendi overhaul gathers pace with $8.2 bln Activision sale
* Vivendi to retain 12 pct stake in Activision
* Some of sale proceeds to pay down debt, rest unknown
* Move follows Maroc Telecom disposal, network-sharing deal
* Activision becomes independent again in management buyout
PARIS, July 26 (Reuters) - Vivendi agreed to sell the majority of its stake in Activision Blizzard Inc for $8.2 billion on Friday, which it said could pave the way for a broader split of the French conglomerate's media and telecoms assets.
Vivendi has been looking to sell different parts of its business portfolio for the last 18 months, although it had been expected to keep Activision Blizzard as it had talked up media and content as its future.
Chief Financial Officer Philippe Capron said on a conference call that Vivendi was now doing a feasibility study on whether to spin off its French operator SFR from the rest of its business, which includes Universal Music Group, pay-TV business Canal Plus and Brazilian telecom GVT.
Earlier this week, Vivendi said it was in exclusive talks to sell its stake in Maroc Telecom to Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat for 4.2 billion euros ($5.56 billion).
Vivendi is selling the shares in Activision, the world's largest video games publisher known for online multi-player game World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, for $13.60 each, a 10 percent discount to Thursday's closing price.
It is keeping a 12 percent stake, down from 61 percent, and selling the rest back to the company and to an investor group led by the games maker's Chief Executive Bobby Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly.
Activision shares were up 2.3 percent in New York, while Vivendi stock was 2.5 percent higher at 1339 GMT.
The deal shows Vivendi's long-awaited overhaul is gathering pace 18 months after Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou declared a 'no taboo' era to sort out the company's disparate businesses and reverse a long share price slump.
The company said it would use part of the proceeds from the Activision Blizzard spinoff to pay off some of the company's 13.2 billion euros debt and that the board would decide how to use the rest.
Recent media reports said Vivendi was seeking access to the $4.3 billion in cash on Activision's balance sheet via a special dividend, not an outright sale.
The sale is the fruit of months of talks between the parent company and the management of the video games maker led by long-time boss Bobby Kotick.
A special committee of independent directors was formed to study options in parallel, including Vivendi selling down part of its stake, a special dividend to the parent, and the management buyout finally agreed on, people familiar with the matter earlier told Reuters.
For Kotick, the deal delivers a long-standing aim to buy back the company he has built into a games powerhouse since 1991 from Vivendi, which took control in 2007.
Activision said early on Friday it would buy back 429 million shares from Vivendi for $5.83 billion.
An investor group led by Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly will separately purchase about 172 million Activision shares from Vivendi for $2.34 billion.
The consortium, which will own 24.9 percent of Activision, includes Davis Advisors, Leonard Green & Partners, and Chinese web portal Tencent, and investment fund Fidelity Investments.
Activision said it was advised by J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Vivendi was advised by Goldman Sachs and Barclays, according to people familiar with the matter.