Activision Blizzard stockholders have overwhelming voted in favour of Microsoft’s proposed $69BN acquisition of the publisher, with 98% of shares approving the transaction.
There’s still some way to go until the deal is finalised, however; while Activision Blizzard stockholders – and, earlier in the week, board members – have now given the deal the go-ahead, it’s still subject to regulatory review around the world, by the likes of the Federal Trade Commission in the US, to determine if the deal constitutes unfair competition.
Should the deal make it through regulatory review, the acquisition has until June 2023 to close, whereupon Microsoft will welcome some of the industries most recognisable franchises into its fold, including Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, and mobile hit Candy Crush.
However, as reported by Bloomberg today, uncertainty still remains over whether the deal will be allowed to go through, with some Wall Street investors believing the Biden administration’s antitrust investigators will block or delay the acquisition – a belief that’s reflected in Activision Blizzard’s current share price, trading at 23% below Microsoft’s offer of $95.
Still, with Microsoft’s acquisition offer having now been approved by Activision Blizzard shareholders one more hurdle has been cleared. In response to the news, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said, “Today’s overwhelmingly supportive vote by our stockholders confirms our shared belief that, combined with Microsoft, we will be even better positioned to create great value for our players, even greater opportunities for our employees, and to continue our focus on becoming an inspiring example of a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive workplace”.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision comes at a troubling time for the Call of Duty publisher, which remains mired in controversy following last year’s shocking allegations it had fostered a company culture where sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behaviour could thrive.
Activision Blizzard was described as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women” in a State of California lawsuit filing last July, and CEO Bobby Kotick subsequently became the focus of a damning report claiming he was aware of sexual misconduct within the company “for years”.
More recently, the parents of a former Activision Blizzard employee who committed suicide during a company retreat in 2017 launched a lawsuit suing the publisher for wrongful death, alleging the suicide was the result of sexual harassment by work colleagues.
Events took a further dramatic turn earlier this month when the governor of California was accused of interfering to support Activision Blizzard in the state discrimination and harassment lawsuit that kickstarted the publisher’s woes.