September 26, 2022

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Barry Diller calls his Activision-Blizzard options trade in advance of blockbuster Microsoft deal a ‘lucky bet’

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Barry Diller made a big bet on Activision Blizzard shares prior to Microsoft’s acquisition announcement. (World Travel & Tourism Council Photo, 2016, via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Media mogul Barry Diller acknowledged that he made what turned out to be a lucrative investment in options to buy Activision Blizzard shares prior to Microsoft’s announcement that it would acquire the game giant for $ 68.7 billion.

However, he told the Wall Street Journal that it was “simply a lucky bet.”

The newspaper cites people familiar with the matter saying that federal prosecutors and securities regulators are investigating the options trades made by Diller, his stepson Alexander von Furstenberg and producer David Geffen.

“We acted on no information of any kind from anyone,” Diller told the WSJ. “It’s one of those coincidences.”

Microsoft announced the $ 68.7 billion deal on Jan. 18. Shares of Activision Blizzard – the gaming giant behind such franchises as Warcraft Diablo, Overwatch, Call of Duty and Candy Crush – shot up more than 25% on the news. The WSJ reports that Geffen, Diller and von Furstenberg have an unrealized profit of about $ 60 million on the trade.

Diller is chairman of the Seattle-based Expedia Group and serves on the board of Coca-Cola Co. with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, whom Diller describes as a longtime friend. Kotick plans to leave the Coca-Cola board later this year.

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