Three Activision Blizzard shareholders–Fox founder Barry Diller, music industry magnate David Geffen, and socialite Alexander von Furstenberg (the son of Diller’s wife Diane von Furstenberg)–are under investigation by the U.S. government for possible insider trading.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the trio has caught the eye of both the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission after buying a large number of Activision Blizzard shares shortly before Microsoft’s announcement that it would seek to acquire the company. More precisely, the men bought 4.12 million Activision Blizzard shares for around $108 million four days before Microsoft announced it would be acquiring the company for nearly $69 billion, after which share prices went up. They then turned those shares around for $60 million in profits.
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Now Playing: Xbox Buys Activision Blizzard For Tons Of Money, Bobby Kotick To Leave in 2023 | GameSpot News
Diller in particular looks to be a key figure for the investigation, as he has a personal friendship with embattled Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. The two long served on Coca-Cola’s board of directors together, and Diller has called Kotick “a longtime friend.”
Speaking with the WSJ, Diller said his purchase of Activision Blizzard shares at such an opportune time was “simply a lucky bet” and that it was “one of those coincidences.” He said the trio of men thought that given Activision Blizzard’s situation, they assumed the company “would either go private or would be acquired at some point.”
It was recently announced that Kotick would step down from Coca-Cola’s board so he can focus his attention on Activision Blizzard prior to its merger with Microsoft. That deal still needs regulatory approval but is expected to be finalized in 2023. Should it go through, Kotick could find himself with a $15 million “golden parachute” as a result of the acquisition.
Kotick himself has been the subject of numerous reports in the wake of an explosive 2021 lawsuit from the state of California that documented an alleged history of sexual discrimination and harassment at Activision Blizzard. Many employees, and some fellow board members, called for Kotick’s resignation following a report that Kotick hid knowledge of misconduct at the company. California’s lawsuit has led to subsequent investigations, including one from the SEC, into Activision Blizzard’s workplace culture.
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