Microsoft and Activision Blizzard Extend $75 Billion Merger Deadline

The World of Warcraft series is part of Activision Blizzard’s vast portfolio of videogames.
The World of Warcraft series is part of Activision Blizzard’s vast portfolio of videogames.


  • The extension, until mid-October, gives the companies more time to gain regulatory approval in the U.K.

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard said they have agreed to extend the deadline for their $75 billion merger until mid-October, a step that will allow them to continue with efforts to gain regulatory approval in the U.K.

The companies, which had originally planned to close the deal by Tuesday, gave themselves until Oct. 18 to complete a transaction that would give Microsoft ownership of Activision’s vast portfolio of videogames, including those from hit series such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush and World of Warcraft.

The companies agreed to increase the termination fee from $3 billion to $3.5 billion if the transaction is terminated after Aug. 29 and to $4.5 billion if the deal is called off after Sept. 15.

Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smithsaid on Twitter that the extension would provide “ample time" to resolve remaining regulatory issues. “We are confident about our prospects for getting this deal across the finish line," he said.

A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard echoed Smith’s remarks about the deal closing quickly.

Activision also released its second-quarter financial results showing revenue rose 34% from a year earlier to $2.21 billion. Earnings more than doubled to $587 million, and net bookings climbed 50%. Microsoft is expected to report its quarterly results on Tuesday.

Activision added that its board approved a dividend of 99 cents, payable Aug. 17. The company last paid an annual dividend of 47 cents in April 2022.

Activision shares have gained ground recently as investors bet that the deal is more likely to close. They ended trading Tuesday at $92.74, up 10% in July. The deal price is $95 a share.

On Wednesday, shares of Activision fell 0.4% in morning trading, while Microsoft’s stock was flat.

Microsoft announced its plans to buy Activision in January 2022 and valued the deal at $69 billion after adjusting for the videogame publisher’s net cash. The companies secured regulatory approval in Europe, China and other markets but hit roadblocks in the U.S. and the U.K.

Last week a U.S. federal judge denied the Federal Trade Commission’s bid to block the transaction while the agency appeals a July 11 decision by a trial court judge. The FTC more often drops its opposition to a deal if a judge denies an injunction, which is what happened with Meta Platforms’ acquisition of virtual-reality company Within Unlimited.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority is now the only major obstacle to the deal closing. The regulator has said it is concerned that the merger could harm the nascent market for cloud gaming, or the streaming of videogames over the internet, though last week it agreed to consider a restructuring of the acquisition. The U.K. regulator added that it would need to conduct a fresh investigation into any changes made but didn’t say how long that would take.

With the purchase of Activision, Microsoft is looking to bolster its limited presence in mobile gaming, which is by far the biggest sector of the videogaming industry by revenue. The software giant also wants to pad its portfolio of titles for its videogame subscription service Game Pass, which includes cloud gaming.

Closing the Activision deal is critical for Microsoft to achieve those goals. Outside of China, there are only a handful of game companies with large portfolios that Microsoft could potentially acquire.

To woo regulators over the past 18 months, Microsoft made pacts with Nintendo, Nvidia and other rivals to make Call of Duty—one of the game industry’s most popular franchises—equally accessible to players on their platforms over a 10-year period. On Sunday, Sony Group, one of the biggest critics of the acquisition, agreed to the same arrangement.

If Microsoft can punch through the final barriers and finish the deal, the acquisition will give a boost to its videogaming business and mark a victory for its efforts to prevail over agencies that have become more stringent about how they review big tech deals.

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