Microsoft said on Tuesday it would buy videogame publisher Activision Blizzard in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion (roughly Rs. 512,362 crores), or $95 per share, inclusive of Activision Blizzard’s net cash. The Redmond-based software giant said that when the transaction closes, it will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval, Microsoft said. The deal is expected to close in fiscal year 2023. Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently.
Microsoft’s offer of $95 per share is at a premium of 45 percent to Activision’s Friday close. Shares of Activision were up nearly 38 percent at $65.39 before being halted for news. The acquisition will bolster Microsoft’s Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 25 million subscribers. The company has plans to Activision Blizzard games into the game pass.
Demand for video games has surged during the pandemic, as stuck-at-home consumers play more games to keep themselves entertained. Activision’s library of games such as Call of Duty and Overwatch also gives Microsoft’s Xbox gaming platform an edge over Sony’s PlayStation, which has for years enjoyed a more steady stream of exclusive games.
Last week, rival videogame publisher Take-Two Interactive Software said it would buy FarmVille creator Zynga in an $11 billion cash-and-stock deal, marking one of the biggest industry-wide acquisitions of all time.
In a blog post, Microsoft revealed that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team “will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth.” Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
In a press statement, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said, “Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms. We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”
“Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them,” said Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming. “Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.”
“For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard. “The combination of Activision Blizzard’s world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry.”