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Viacom Ordered to Pay $383M to Makers of Rock Band

Shareholders initially sought $700 million in damages

December 28, 2011 12:00 PM ET
Viacom Inc.'s 'The Beatles: Rock Band' sits on display at a Best Buy store in New York.
Viacom Inc.'s 'The Beatles: Rock Band' sits on display at a Best Buy store in New York.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty

Viacom Inc. has been ordered by a private arbitrator to fork over $383 million to Harmonix, the manufacturers of the Rock Band video game. The money is in addition to $150 million Viacom has already paid the former shareholders of Harmonix.

Viacom, which bought the company in 2006 in an attempt to break into the video game business, sold Harmonix to a private investment firm for $50 in 2010. The sale saved Viacom $50 million in taxes because of the losses in the media company's investment in Harmonix.

While $383 million may seem to be a large amount for Viacom to pay, it wasn't the worst-case scenario. Shareholders had initially sought a total of $700 million in damages, including the initial $150 million. Viacom is fighting the arbitrator's decision by suing in the Delaware Court of Chancery, on the grounds that certain arguments and evidence were "improperly excluded" in the process.

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