Call of Duty

Microsoft Completes $68.7B Acquisition of Call of Duty Maker Activision Blizzard

Published by
Tobias Seck

The wait is over. Microsoft completed its $68.7B USD acquisition of the video game holding company Activision Blizzard on Friday. The two companies initially signed an agreement and plan of merger on Jan. 18, 2022, however, clearing regulatory hurdles and market authorities’ scrutiny protracted the transaction process beyond the anticipated closing date of June 2023.

The announcement of the deal being completed was made only a few hours after receiving the final approval from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the British antitrust agency. The approval was granted following a licensing deal between Microsoft and Ubisoft, which ensured cloud streaming rights to Activision Blizzard’s games to one of its competitors. Prior to receiving the CMA’s approval, Microsoft was able to address the European Commission’s concerns and get the preliminary injunction request by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) denied in the District Court for the Northern District of California.

As a result of the acquisition, Activision Blizzard’s CEO Robert “Bobby” Kotick, and the directors of the company’s board resigned. While Kotick officially resigned from his last position, he will stay with the company until the end of the year as CEO of Microsoft’s new Activision Blizzard King division to help with the transition. In this role, Kotick will be reporting to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer.

In a letter to all Microsoft employees, Spencer shared that he and Microsoft Gaming’s leadership team will be visiting the Activision, Blizzard, and King offices over the coming weeks. Spencer also revealed that Microsoft Gaming initiated the process of making Activision Blizzard’s library of games available on Game Pass and other platforms.

With the completion of the transaction between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, the trading of Activision’s stock was halted on the Nasdaq as Microsoft initiated its delisting. All outstanding Activision Blizzard stock traded on the Nasdaq is converted into the right to receive a merger consideration worth $95.00 per share. The stock’s final closing price was $94.57. Activision Blizzard’s stock closed at $64.31 right before the acquisition plan was made public. While the stock jumped up to more than $85 per share on the following trading day, the lengthy transaction process and pushback from competition and market authorities across the globe kept Activision Blizzard’s share volatile throughout the process with several price drops below $70 per share.

The $68.7B Activision Blizzard acquisition by Microsoft is the most expensive deal in the gaming industry, dwarfing Take-Two’s $12.7B acquisition of Zynga last year, which previously held that title.

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Tobias Seck

Tobias Seck is a journalist and business analyst who spent more than seven years at The Esports Observer (TEO) as a business analyst. He was one of the first employees of the publication, having joined in 2015. In October 2018 he shifted to the role of business analyst and journalist, writing analysis and helping fellow TEO writers understand the world of finance as a supplemental editor when needed. He continued in that role when TEO was rolled into Sports Business Journal (SBJ), where he worked until February 2023.

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