Microsoft Began Acquisition Talks With Activision Blizzard Immediately Following WSJ Article About Kotick

$68.7 billion deal was closed two months after the publication of the article and Phil Spencer's comments.

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor February 21, 2022
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Activision Building

How long does it take for a multi-billion-dollar deal to come together? In the case of Activision Blizzard's sale to Microsoft, about two months.

CNBC has learned from SEC filings that the two companies started talking about the acquisition shortly after the Wall Street Journal published its allegations on November 16 regarding Activision CEO Bobby Kotick's efforts to hide harassment at his company.

Just a few days later -- as Activision's stock price dropped 11% -- Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said Microsoft was "evaluating" its relationship with Activision Blizzard; two days after that, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was on the phone with Kotick to discuss a possible acquisition.

Kotick spoke with other companies before the acquisition was announced, ostensibly in the effort to secure a better price than the one that was eventually agreed upon with Microsoft. Activision Chairman Brian Kelly also received an email from another person, unnamed in the report, who "expressed interest in a purchase of the Blizzard segment or a move to take part or all of Activision Blizzard private."

We were mostly certain that Microsoft's talks to acquire Activision Blizzard kicked off some time after the initial lawsuit was filed against the company in July, but it's a little shocking to see exactly how short a time frame was involved. Spencer's comments -- which may have an impact on the stock price and therefore, the acquisition price -- are also curiously timed. If he'd made them while the two companies were talking, would that have constituted a form of tampering? As it was, he officially made them just one day before negotiations got underway, which is a kind of timing that's almost too perfect to be believed.

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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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