Activision-Blizzard’s sale to Microsoft nearly thwarted by rival company

microsoft buyout activision blizzard world of warcraft wowMicrosoft

Details of Microsoft’s groundbreaking acquisition of Activision-Blizzard in January 2022 are coming to light as the two companies file details of the merger to the SEC. In the 100-page filing, Blizzard representatives have shared how quickly the sale came together, as well as other competitors nearly thwarting it.

Microsoft’s bombshell acquisition of Activision-Blizzard took the gaming world by storm in January 2022. The sale, valued at nearly $70 billion, is Microsoft’s biggest to date, picking up the iconic developer and bringing them under their gaming wing.

“This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console, and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse,” Microsoft said.

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The acquisition will make them the third-largest gaming company in the world, behind Tencent (owner of Riot Games and part-owner of Epic Games) and Sony. While the merger isn’t expected to settle until June 2023, details of it are being questioned in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

It outlines just how quickly the Activision-Blizzard merger with Microsoft came together and the competition Microsoft was facing.

phil spencer addresses activision blizzard concernsXbox
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer (pictured) got the ball rolling on the merger in November 2021.

Activision-Blizzard acquisition came to fruition within a week

Talks between Bobby Kotick and Phil Spencer started on November 19, 2021, with the Microsoft Gaming boss raising interest in “strategic opportunities between Activision-Blizzard and Microsoft.”

Over the course of a week, Microsoft discussed the idea of a merger, coming to the table with an offer as quickly as November 26 ⁠— just a week after the idea of partnering up was floated.

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The discussion from there until January 17, 2022 ⁠— the day the merger was announced ⁠— ironed out specifics of the deal. However, that wasn’t without other companies coming to Activision-Blizzard with their own offers.

There were three other companies, referred to in the filing as Companies C, D, and E, that were interested in acquiring Activision-Blizzard. One of them was looking at potentially splitting Activision and Blizzard up, but it wasn’t as tantalizing as Microsoft’s offer.

The exact names of these companies haven’t been confirmed, but it’s rumored one of Tencent or Sony could have potentially tried to swoop in.

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sony and bungieSony
Sony is rumored to have been one of the parties interested in Activision-Blizzard. They announced the purchase of Bungie two weeks after the merger.

The deal was basically set in stone following the signing of a 30-day exclusivity commitment which blocked competitors from getting access to long-term financial records. Company D was the final party interested up until December 20, when Blizzard signed that agreement with Microsoft and blocked them out.

While Microsoft didn’t match Activision-Blizzard’s initial request of $100 per share, the deal was settled at $95. The company’s initial proposal came in at $80 per share, with nearly 780 million shares in circulation.

Activision-Blizzard’s sale isn’t confirmed yet though — a vote is expected to be held for stakeholders later in 2022. Blizzard, unsurprisingly, has pushed stakeholders to vote for the proposal.

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Both companies have put in termination fees upwards of $2 billion if the sale falls through for one reason or another. The merger process will take months, if not years, but both parties are aiming for a June 2023 finalization.

If it goes through, executive bosses at Blizzard will be earning upwards of $10 million each, with Bobby Kotick receiving $14.6 million. COO Daniel Alegre will get the biggest share with a more than $29 million bonus.

Bobby Kotick smilingFlickr: Thomas Hawk
Troubled Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will receive nearly $15 million if the sale goes through.

Activision-Blizzard faced controversy in 2021 after a number of lawsuits were filed against the company over sexual harassment and discrimination. Phil Spencer himself stated he was “deeply concerned” over Activision-Blizzard’s handling of the allegations.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has promised to “usher in a new era of gaming…[that’s] safe, inclusive, and accessible to all” with the sale.