Justice Department Probing Activision Blizzard/Microsoft Deal, Suspects Insider Trading

Also, four senators call for FTC to closer scrutinize the deal and see that Bobby Kotick is "held responsible for the culture he created."

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor April 1, 2022
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Acitivision Blizzard Employee Firing Harassment Allegations

You know that the sale of Activision Blizzard to Microsoft can't proceed smoothly, with no hitches and no sign of funny business, right? You know it can't be that easy, can it?

According to The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick met with three traders days before the deal with Microsoft was announced, and the Justice Department is investigating whether their purchases may have violated insider-trading laws. The purchase was supposedly made at $40 per share; the Microsoft deal was for $95 per share.

One of the men, co-founder of Fox Broadcasting and the USA Network Barry Diller, said that it "belies credulity to think that if we did we would have proceeded" with the transaction if they would have had insider information about the pending deal. Then again, he also referred to Kotick as "a sophisticated professional," so it's clear that his judgment can't be trusted.

It all boils down to a few very rich people saying "nuh-uh, we didn't break the rules to get even richer," and if history is any guide, those very rich people won't be punished for their transgressions. Dodging Repurcussions 101 is one of the first classes the uber-rich take once they make their first billion or so.

In related news, four Senators are asking the Federal Trade Comission to take a closer look at the Microsoft-Activision deal. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I.,Vt.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) sent a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan that "makes clear that the four senators are unhappy with the notion of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick escaping accountability for his alleged part (and apparent participation) in enabling the company's alleged culture of sexual harassment, abuse, and toxicity," according to Game Developer.

The letter additionally states that if the deal could "worsen the negotiating position between workers and companies," then the FTC should intervene, and also calls for Bobby Kotick "to be held responsible for the culture he created."

See the above paragraph for what I think the odds are that anything of that sort will happen. As you might recall, Kotick is likely to receive a payout in the hundreds of millions of dollars if he is ever let go from the company. Maybe it's executive compensation as a whole that should be scrutinized by senators and the FTC, rather than trying to play some futile game of whack-a-mole whenever something like this pops up -- which it will the next time a CEO is credibly accused of something horrendous.

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In this article: Blizzard, Microsoft, Activision.

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

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