Shareholders in Activision Blizzard approved overwhelmingly to accept Microsoft Corporation’s offer of $68.7 billion (£54.66 billion) to acquire the company at yesterday’s Special Meeting of Stockholders. More than 98% of the shares voted in favour of the buyout offer, Activision Blizzard confirmed in a statement released on their website. The largest payment for a technology company in recorded history, toppling Dell’s acquisition of EMC Data Storage from 2016, it’s now expected the deal will conclude during Microsoft’s fiscal year, which ends on June 30th 2023.
Microsoft made public their all-cash proposal to acquire Activision Blizzard for $95 (£76) per share on January 18th, which was just a bit of a shock. The proposed deal would further consolidate the games industry and bring huge franchises like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Warcraft, Candy Crush and, really weirdly, Crash Bandicoot under Microsoft’s stewardship. Activision Blizzard’s, ahem, controversial CEO Bobby Kotick, who reportedly proposed buying games media outlets to ‘change the narrative’ surrounding the company, commented on the shareholders' approval:
“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.”
At the end of March, Four United States senators including former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts representative Elizabeth Warren appealed to the Federal Trade Commission to consider the effect of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard on workers before approving the deal. Bloomberg report that the FTC’s lead Lina Khan is likely to oppose the deal when it’s reviewed. Other governments outside of the United States have also yet to approve the deal.
Activision Blizzard have struggled with accusations of sexual harrassment, discrimination and poor working conditions for their employees in recent years. These issues continue to play out in public, although Activision Blizzard finally acknowledged the demands of unionised Quality Assurance testers across most of the company earlier this month. Only Raven Software were left out of this change, although the United States’ National Labor Relations Board has since ruled that Raven’s QA staff can vote on unionisation with ballots due to be sent out today.