Activision Blizzard shareholders have (overwhelmingly) voted to approve Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition offer. The investors who control 98 percent of shares in the company collectively gave a thumbs-up to the proposed transaction, which now means it advances to the regulatory approval stage.
Given that both companies just posted their financial results (Microsoft’s were strong, Activision Blizzard’s weren’t), this vote comes at a key moment for how investors and business-minded folks view the company’s future. As Bloomberg News noted, Activision Blizzard’s stock price has been in steady decline for the last few days. Some of that could be attributed to the rough financial results, but others are interpreting it as wariness that this deal will actually go through.
That wariness apparently comes because of pressure from the U.S Federal Trade Commission. Chairwoman Lina Khan has made many statements about how the department will be scrutinizing tech acquisitions, and this proposed merger is the first major one to manifest during her tenure (four U.S Senators have also asked her to look closely at this particular acquisition).
Such scrutiny is also likely because of Activision Blizzard’s mad scramble to deal with a barrage of lawsuits revealing an alleged culture of sexual harassment and toxicity at the company, as well as a burgeoning unionization effort at subsidiary Raven Software. Questions have also floated about whether CEO Bobby Kotick will stay with Activision Blizzard after the acquisition.
Kotick led the company during periods where the alleged sexual harassment and discrimination was taking place, and is also accused of participating it in himself by allegedly threatening to kill an assistant and protecting Treyarch co-founder Dan Bunting from a recommended firing after the company’s human resources deemed sexual harassment complaints against the veteran employee to be credible.
So far Activision Blizzard’s strategy to deal with this crisis has been to settle a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, furiously deny a lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, fire a handful of employees implicated in the behavior, and of course, pursue acquisition.