Call of Duty

Microsoft President on Activision Blizzard Acquisition: 'It's Moving Fast'

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, has shed some light on the company's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, has shed some light on the company's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. / Image courtesy of Microsoft, Activision Blizzard

Microsoft's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is "moving fast," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a recent interview with Belgian business publication L’Echo.

Back in January, Microsoft initially announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in an all-cash transaction, bringing the likes of Activision, Blizzard and King franchises Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Call of Duty and Candy Crush under the Microsoft Gaming banner.

Subject to customary closing conditions and the completion of regulatory review, the proposed transaction is expected to close in Microsoft’s fiscal year ending on June 30, 2023.

"It’s moving fast," Smith said, "at least fast enough for an acquisition of this size. We have received requests for information on this subject here in Brussels, but also in London and Washington. We answer questions, we give briefings and we provide the information requested.

"One of our attorneys summed it up nicely by saying, ‘We’re coming to the end of the beginning and now we’re entering the beginning of the middle.’ It’s a long process and we’re still at the stage where we’re answering questions. For us, of course, the sooner it is done the better, but we will respect the process."

In a move that was to be expected, Activision Blizzard announced in late April that more than 98% of the shares voted at the Activision Blizzard Special Meeting of Stockholders were voted in favor of the proposed transaction with Microsoft.

If the transaction closes, Microsoft would become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

Of course, the major question mark remains as to whether or not Microsoft is able to convince regulators to approve the transaction in the next 12 months.

In February, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will lead the review of Microsoft's planned deal, an agency that has assumed a more aggressive stance on mergers in the tech space.

FTC Chair Lina Khan has advocated for harsher anti-trust reviews, especially among tech company mergers. She has already led the FTC to sue to block two major takeovers: Nvidia's proposed purchase of semiconductor company Arm Ltd., and weapons company Lockheed Martin's deal to buy rocket manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings.

The FTC's investigation of the Microsoft-Activision deal will focus on the former's console and PC manufacturing capabilities and the latter's game development and publishing. Regulators will likely focus on whether Microsoft owning Activision Blizzard would harm other gaming companies by limiting their access to major Activision Blizzard franchises.

In April, four U.S. senators sent a letter to the FTC urging it to closely inspect Microsoft's proposed acquisition, warning the deal could undercut pushes for accountability over the latter's reported culture of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.