Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick downplays regulatory scrutiny, says Microsoft deal is on track for 2023


Skepticism over Microsoft’s takeover and buyout of the beleaguered Activision-Blizzard group is mounting across the industry, as multiple of news outlets have pushed stories in the last few days homing in on increased scrutiny of the deal, particularly from US and UK regulators. For example, this morning’s AP deep-dive notes that only Saudi Arabia has approved the deal to date and that governments from many of the largest economies in the world are probing the merger for anti-trust implications.

As if in response, Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick posted a press release styled as a letter to the corporate team addressing the merger. It specifically claims “approvals from a couple of countries” and acknowledges what is apparently an escalated review in the UK, implying it’s all just part of the process that is still on track to be finalized next summer. Here’s Kotick missive.

“I wanted to provide a brief update of our progress towards the completion of our merger with Microsoft. As we said from the outset, this is a long process. With the number of government approvals required, we still believe the deal is most likely to close in Microsoft’s fiscal year ending June of next year. We are fortunate to have already received approvals from a couple of countries, and the process with all of the regulators is generally moving along as we expected. This week we heard from the United Kingdom, where we have more employees than anywhere except North America. We have entered the second phase of our review there, and we will continue to fully cooperate with the regulators there, and everywhere approvals are required. As our industry continues to see numerous companies investing aggressively in gaming, including many of the world’s largest technology and media companies, government regulators are taking appropriate and deliberate steps to better understand our industry and the growing competition from around the world. Beginning in September, I am going to initiate town halls to keep everyone informed of our continuing progress towards our future as part of one of the world’s most admired companies. We have a very exciting fall ahead of us with anticipation building for our new games. Thank you all for working so hard to continue to connect, engage, and entertain our players around the world.”

Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees unionize and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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