Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition was opportunistic, says report

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Back in January 2022, Microsoft announced its intent to buy Activision Blizzard — the makers of Call of Duty — for a staggering $68.7 billion. The deal was in the works for months, but according to a new report by CNBC, head of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer, wanted to acquire the company a few days after news of the sexual harassment cover-up involving current Activision Blizzard chief Bobby Kotick broke and the company's stock plummeted.

The outlet said the following after examining the regulatory filing documents provided by Microsoft.

Microsoft first reached out to ... Activision Blizzard ... the same week a media report landed asserting that ... Bobby Kotick had known for years about alleged cases of sexual assault at the company. The filing indicates that the companies began negotiations in November, two months before agreeing to a $68.7 billion deal that would be the largest purchase ever for a ... technology company. For Microsoft, the timing was opportunistic ... On November 20, Satya Nadella told Kotick on a call that he wanted to explore an acquisition.

Had The Wall Street Journal report about Kotick's involvement and the subsequent stock drop not happened, Activision Blizzard probably wouldn't have agreed to be acquired. In a recent interview, President and Vice-Chair of Microsoft, Brad Smith, said that they were committed to removing offenders at Activision Blizzard once the deal goes through sometime in late 2022 or early 2023.

As stated by CNBC, the timing of this acquisition is definitely opportunistic because it seems like Spencer saw the possibility of Activision Blizzard agreeing to a deal when it was under tremendous duress. Even the State of California is investigating the company's workplace culture at the moment. It seems like a smart business because it only would've been possible at that time.

Activision Blizzard spoke with five other companies, but Microsoft's offer was the best. It seems like EA was one of them, but it's unclear if Sony was another.

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