Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition under threat from FTC as shareholders approve deal
What just happened? Activision Blizzard shareholders approved a $69 billion buyout of Microsoft, with 98% voting in favor of the acquisition. But Wall Street is still betting on the failure of the deal.
Bloomberg reports that shareholders approved Microsoft’s $95 per share offer. The share price reached $82 after the acquisition news, meaning that anyone who buys then will be guaranteed a $13 per share profit once the deal is completed. However, the current share price has fallen to around $77, suggesting that investors are unsure the merger will be completed.
As reported back in February, the uncertainty comes as the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into the acquisition. Buying Activision Blizzard would make Microsoft the third largest video game company after Tencent and Sony, and it has attracted the attention of regulators looking into potential antitrust issues.
A group of organizers last month urged the FTC monitor Takeover by Microsoft, warning that it could have “anti-competitive horizontal effects”. The statement notes that the deal could also have a detrimental effect on the unionization efforts of some Blizzard employees, noting that none of Microsoft’s US employees are unionized.
The FTC played a significant role in blocking Nvidia’s Arm acquisition earlier this year, having previously filed a lawsuit to stop the purchase. Microsoft also needs to get approval from the European Union and Chinese governments.
Not all Activision Blizzard shareholders want the buyout to go through. SOC Investment Group, an activist group with a small stake, urged other shareholders to back out of the deal. He believes the company is undervalued due to the board’s “incompetent handling” of the sexual harassment lawsuits it has faced, and would prefer the board be replaced so Blizzard can repair its damaged reputation.
The merger must be completed by June 30, 2023.
h/t: PC gamer