Sony has been ordered to reveal a number of trade secrets to its largest rival as a direct result of its continued opposition to Microsoft's proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard. This is arguably the largest consequence of Sony's ongoing pushback against Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition to date.
The Japanese gaming giant has been the largest opponent of the consolidation ever since Microsoft announced its provisional buyout agreement with the World of Warcraft maker in early 2022. Following a plethora of regulatory hearings the world over and even some memes throwing shade at Sony straight from Activision's C-suite, Microsoft subpoenaed its rival in mid-January 2023, requesting access to years of sensitive company filings, including platform exclusivity deals and other trade secrets. The motion for disclosure was filed as part of a fact discovery stage in Microsoft's pending trial with the US Federal Trade Commission, who sued to block the Activision Blizzard purchase on antitrust grounds in December 2022.
A newly surfaced administrative ruling revealed that Microsoft's subpoena has been granted as of late February, in spite of Sony's creative protests. As a result, the Xbox rival will have to provide Microsoft with exclusivity deals and four years' worth of other company records that the defense claims will help it make a case for why its proposed acquisition should go through. Microsoft initially requested all of Sony's exclusivity deals dating back ten years, but the FTC limited the scope of the required disclosure to commitments signed since 2019 after the Japanese company argued it would have to manually sift through more than 150,000 contracts due to database limitations.
Those protests aside, the order was limited on account of relevancy, not technical shortcomings of Sony's bookkeeping methods. Namely, since the goal of the trial is to determine whether Microsoft's Activision Blizzard takeover would give Xbox too much power and lead to antitrust issues in the future, the administrative judge who signed the order decided that PlayStation exclusivity deals from a decade ago were not relevant to the case.
Sony's continued attempts to prevent this deal from going through is an uphill battle at best and a futile endeavor at worst, according to multiple analysts who believe Microsoft's likely to complete the Activision Blizzard acquisition. The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant repeatedly said it's confident that the merger will go through come late spring 2023.
Be that as it may, the market does not appear to share Microsoft's level of confidence in that turn of events, at least if Activision Blizzard's current market capitalization is any indication. Namely, the Call of Duty maker's stock traded in the $77 ballpark at the NASDAQ Stock Exchange throughout March 2, which is nearly 20% below Microsoft's all-cash offer of $95 per share, valued at approximately $69 billion.
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