Viacom ordered to pay $300m to ex-Harmonix shareholders

Viacom ordered to pay $300m to ex-Harmonix shareholders
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

July 18th 2013 at 10:45AM

Delaware court upholds developer's allegations against media conglomerate

Viacom has been ordered to pay a $299 million to Harmonix shareholders, in a court battle between the media conglomerate and the Rock Band developer that is now in its third year.

The Delaware Supreme Court has upheld two previous judgments claiming that Viacom avoided paying our hundreds of millions in bonuses to stockholders. Under the terms of the verdict, Viacom is expected to owe $299 million, Gamasutra reports.

Harmonix first took Viacom to court over the issue in December 2010, alleging that the media company, which was its former owner, infringed the terms of the 2006 acquisition deal and manipulated costs in order to dodge paying out performance-based bonuses during Rock Band’s boom years of profitability.

The media giant paid Harmonix stockholders – a group which included the studio’s founders such as Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy – $150 million in bonuses in 2007, but later demanded a refund.

Walter Winshall, Harmonix stockholders’ representative, then called for Viacom to pay out an extra $383 million in unpaid bonuses, of which Viacom agreed to pay $84 million.

Harmonix took Viacom to court for the remaining $299 million, and won through an arbitrator in 2011 and Delaware’s lower courts in 2012. However, Viacom appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, disputing the arbitrator’s authority.

In the wake of this new ruling, Viacom may yet decide to further appeal to the US Supreme Court or it may elect to accept the state courts’ decision.