'No fee attached' in Harmonix buyout

'No fee attached' in Harmonix buyout

By Rob Crossley

January 4th 2011 at 1:24PM

Rumour: Investment firm 'picks up unsettled bill'

Media giant Viacom sold Rock Band developer Harmonix for a nominal fee, an unconfirmed report has claimed.

An article published on All Things Digital said investment group Columbus Nova paid the nominal fee in a so-called fire sale.

“I’m told that investment group Columbus Nova paid $49.99 — the list price for Rock Band 3,” the report reads.

The suggestion is that shares were bought for virtually nothing to counterbalance the high cost of taking on the studio's debts, which Viacom was keen to be rid of.

Viacom put Harmonix up for sale at the end of November amid widespread sentiment that the music games market has fallen off a cliff.

No publisher publicly registered an interest in buying the outfit. On the contrary, the likes of EA described buying the firm as “catching a falling knife”.

"People familiar with the transaction say Harmonix’s buyers also assumed the game company’s liabilities,” the report reads.

That means absorbing the costs of music rights fees, as well as the responsibility for “lots of unsold games and equipment sitting on warehouse shelves”.

Viacom and Harmonix declined to comment.

At the end of the year, Harmonix regained its independence as it was bought by a Columbus Nova subsidiary named ‘Harmonix Holdings’.

It is also rumoured that, from the deal, Viacom will net as much as $150 million in tax benefits.

Founded in 1995, Harmonix was bought by Viacom in 2006 in a $175 million deal.