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Acquisition of Companies concerning Disney, Microsoft and Sony

When it comes to the legal definition, the acquisition means that a party would buy and control the interest in the target company's share capital, assets, and liabilities. SEBI defined the target company getting acquired directly or indirectly, especially when it comes to shares or voting rights.
Direct Indirect
Acquirer acquires shares and voting rights of the target company directly. Acquisition of any company or entity that would allow a person to exercise such a proportion of voting rights or control directly. Otherwise, it would be required to make a big statement of an open offer.

For example, ABC, a conglomerate acquires DEF a small company. ABC will then have control of DEF's voting rights, shares, its trump card, and its short end of the stick. In other words, their assets and liabilities.

In the Indian context, the Companies Act 2013 has certain provisions surrounding the acquisition of companies. The restructuring via compromise and arrangement is mentioned under Section 232 of the said act.

The Competition Act 2002 has certain objectives when it comes to acquiring companies:
  • Protect consumer interests:
    When the Star Wars Battlefront 2 Scandal was at its height, many people criticized the publishing company, Electronic Arts for exploiting consumers by aggressively monetizing the basic game systems. One US Representative even stated that the game is an online gambling machine that could prey on impressionable audiences, that is children. The game compels children to pay real-life money.
  • Unhealthy trade practices must be prevented:
    In the above-mentioned example, Electronic Arts, trading practices are mostly for self-interests rather than people-centric. This is why people are disillusioned with the current state of the video game industry.
  • The Competition act must ensure that the companies do not abuse their power for personal interests and profits. Companies like Apple, Disney, and Amazon have made fortunes on the backs of forced laborers.
  • The act's main intention is to bring healthy competition in the market which could improve the economy. It does not want the market economy to be monopolistic. The act must provide the frameworks for the interests of the Competition Commission of India. They must investigate any suspicion of foul play in the companies.
  • They must make sure that the companies do not commit any acts that are considered to be anti-competition. Companies should not remove their competition through illegal and immoral means. That could destroy the essence of the free market economy.
This piece will focus on three companies that have made headlines in recent years, especially about the acquisition of companies. Those three companies are Sony, Microsoft, and Disney. These three companies are some of the largest conglomerates in the world. These companies influence technologies and popular culture.

Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox
The Walt Disney Company is once known for its creator Walt Disney and his creation Mickey Mouse. Now the company is viewed differently with its series of acquisitions of companies and intellectual properties like Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar. Disney is one of the biggest companies in the world and has cemented itself as the global soft power. However, its hegemony is not without its concerns. Many critics stated the irony of the company's ethics, especially with the case of its sweatshop operations in China, as well as its constant catering to its Chinese Political Masters.

The one issue that made it into the news in recent years was its acquisition of the 21st Century Fox. In March 2019, Disney made the deal of acquisition at the cost of $71.3 billion. Many say it is one of the largest media mergers of all time. By acquiring 21st Century Fox, Disney will now have Fox's intellectual property under its umbrella, especially with movies like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men franchise respectively.

Some supported the action. They believe that the acquisition will bring new products with Disney money. Others are concerned regarding Disney's unprecedented purchase. Many suspects that the company will have more power and monopoly and it's a possibility that they will misuse it. A CNET article states that the purchase might be negative for the consumers and it will destroy the people's ability to choose. Whether the acquisition will have good or bad effects will always be up for debate.

Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Tech giant Microsoft shocked the gaming world when it acquired a popular yet polarized gaming company, Activision Blizzard. The cost of the deal was $70 billion making it one of the biggest purchases of a company in the gaming industry. Microsoft has already acquired another influential gaming studio Bethesda at around $7.5 billion. With the purchase of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft will have gaming franchises like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft under their belt.

However, the movie is without its flaws. While some defend the purchase by stating that it would restructure the company as well as prioritize its X-Box Game Pass, others believe otherwise. Many people say that Microsoft will have a monopoly over its competitor and it might be for the right reasons.

Another criticism surrounding the purchase is that the purchase is a desperate measure by Activision Blizzard to save their skin from a grave controversy last year. The State of California filed a lawsuit against the company for sexism, sexual harassment at the workplace, and a suicide of an employee

The male employees get more privileges than their female counterparts, and the workplace became a place of toxicity and frat-boy culture. Many people were angry with the alleged suicide of an employee. The employee was allegedly harassed by her supervisor on a bus trip and her colleagues shared her explicit images which the lawsuit claimed is the source of her death.

It is too soon to jump to a conclusion. However, if these allegations turned out to be accurate, then it could deliver a severe blow to the company, its reputation, and its people.

Sony's Acquisition of Bungie
(Microsoft owns the X-Box video game consoles whereas Sony owns the PlayStation video game consoles)

In response to Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a tech giant and Microsoft's rival Sony decided to buy Bungie. Bungie is the video game developing company behind popular video game franchises like Halo and Destiny. It makes sense given that Bungie was once owned by Microsoft and then Activision Blizzard. The cost of the deal is 3.6 billion dollars.

According to Bungie, the deal will bring them creative and independent decisions. Many people say that the acquisition will escalate console warfare between two giants. With two companies acquiring developing studios many are afraid that they will destroy any sense of competition.

The three companies mentioned in this piece are powerful. They have created a huge impact on this world stage. While it is good that they give unknown and underrated companies a chance to make themselves recognizable, it is also a dangerous step. Many companies will jump the ship to own small companies which they feel are threatening their dominance. This will destroy any sense of competition. In Electronic Art's case, it could be just plain anti-consumer practice. So the people must know about the opportunities and dangers of the acquisition of the companies.

  • How Sony's (SNY) Bungie Acquisition Affects Microsoft's (MSFT) Gaming Ambitions
  • Sony to acquire video game studio Bungie in $3.6 billion deal
  • Letters: It's time to unite against sexism in gaming
  • Metal Gear Solid: Learning Lessons Of War From Video Games
  • Opinion: Why Am I Disillusioned With Internet Edgy And Woke Culture
  • Forced Labour in Supply Chain of Fashion Brands
  • Disney acquires 21st Century Fox: Good or bad for consumers?
  • Explained: Why Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard is not all good news for the gaming industry
  • Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone, across every device
  • Arbitration in the Video Game Industry in Reference to Activision Blizzard Case
  • Current Issues that Plagued the Video Game Industry
  • Acquisition of a Listed Company: The procedure as laid down in the Takeover Code
  • Laws regulating mergers and acquisitions in India
My name is Anish Bachchan and I'm a 5th Year Law Student at Amity Law School, Noida. I have published my various writings in The Los Angeles Times, The Times of India, Live Wire, Youth Ki Awaaz, Legal Service India, and Law Corner. I have also published two books i.e.
  1. Patent 101 Level 1: Understanding Patent of Aggressive Monetization of Video Games
  2. Contempt of Court with References to Media Trials
Written By Anish Bachchan

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