Viacom told to pay Harmonix $383 million

Harmonix, the makers of Rock Band, could finally see a major payday, with a private arbitrator ruling that Viacom owes former shareholders an additional $383 million.

You may remember back in 2010, Viacom sold Harmonix for a measly $49.99. Unsurprisingly, ex-shareholders in the company weren’t pleased by the fire sale price, suing Viacom for a number of performance-based bonuses originally agreed to back in 2006.

Harmonix founders Eran Egozy (left) and Alex Rigopulos

Harmonix founders Eran Egozy (left) and Alex Rigopulos at their offices

It gets better: Earlier this year, Viacom turned around and sued the shareholders, claiming “contractual overpayment”.

And wait, there’s more.

The original contract between the companies included a mandatory arbitration clause, which was triggered when the second lawsuit hit the courts. As a result of this private arbitration, the company is now being asked to pay up. Not quite the result Viacom was anticipating, we’d wager.

It’s also not the result the Harmonixshareholders wanted either – the original $700m asking price was knocked down by $167m ($150m was previously paid out in bonuses).

The drama all circles around Viacom‘s attempt to enter the gaming market. While Rock Band, and sequels Rock Band 2 and Rock Band 3 were super-popular, and The Beatles: Rock Band topping multiple charts, the cost of creating proprietary plastic instruments meant that Viacom consistently lost money on the project.

Harmonix was sold to a New York private investment firm, with Viacom scooping up a $50 million tax benefit in the process.

[img_big]center,6097,2010-11-20/And_Your_Bird_hud_bmp_jpgcopy.jpg,The Beatles: Rock Band[/img_big]

…and it’s not over yet. The LA Times reports that Viacom objects to the arbitrator’s decision (surprise!), and has filed yet another lawsuit in an attempt to vacate the resolution. The company claims that arguments and evidence had been “improperly excluded”.

The saga continues.

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