Activision Blizzard Shareholders Approve Sale To Microsoft, As Expected

The deal isn't complete just yet, but the next step has been reached.


Activision Blizzard shareholders today voted on whether or not to approve the proposed acquisition of the company by Microsoft, and they overwhelmingly approved the deal. The publisher has announced that over 98% of shares voted in favor of the deal, paving the way for the acquisition to go through--although there are still a number of hurdles to overcome before it's a reality.

In an SEC filing, it was revealed the final vote was 539 million shares in favor, with just under 9 million against. Fewer than one million abstained from voting.

"Today’s overwhelmingly supportive vote by our stockholders confirms our shared belief that, combined with Microsoft, we will be even better positioned to create great value for our players, even greater opportunities for our employees, and to continue our focus on becoming an inspiring example of a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive workplace," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who is in line to receive a sizable golden parachute deal should he exit the company after the deal closes, as expected.

While the vote still has to technically be certified and then reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission, that is merely a formality at this point. But as noted above, this successful vote--which was widely believed to go as it did--does not mean Microsoft now owns Activision Blizzard. There is still a long road ahead, as it will face scrutiny from regulators, including the US's Federal Trade Commission and those in other regions, including the EU and China. Those could slow the deal or halt it entirely, as we saw with Nvidia's recent takeover attempt of Arm, which ultimately fell through.

Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard in January for $95 a share. The fact that Activision Blizzard's stock stands well below that point today has resulted in some speculation that investors don't believe the deal will be successful. Whatever the case, the acquisition process now moves ahead and is expected to close by the end of June 2023, provided all goes according to plan.

This takeover attempt comes amidst numerous reports of workplace issues at Activision Blizzard, including allegations involving Kotick. The company is facing multiple lawsuits and also dealing with ongoing unionization attempts amongst its workers.

Should the deal go through, Microsoft would become the world's third biggest video game company following Tencent and Sony. It would put massive franchises such as Call of Duty, Warcraft, and Candy Crush under its control and no doubt lead to an influx of games for Xbox Game Pass, though just how it would handle exclusivity for these series remains to be seen.

The acquisition vote was actually one of two, and the other was much closer. The second vote concerned the approval of a plan concerning payouts for executives at Activision should the acquisition go through. The vote was 357 million for and about 190 million against.

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