Warren Buffett’s Firm Bought Activision Stake Just Before Microsoft Takeover

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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway acquired nearly $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,540 crore) of shares in Activision Blizzard before Microsoft agreed to buy the video game maker for $68.7 billion (roughly Rs. 5,17,880 crore) according to a Monday regulatory filing.

Berkshire said that as of December 31, it owned 14.7 million shares worth about $975 million (roughly Rs. 7,350 crore) of the Call of Duty maker.

Microsoft announced its plan to buy Activision Blizzard on January 18, in its largest ever acquisition.

Activision shares are up 23 percent this year to $81.50 (roughly Rs. 6,140), though they remain well below the proposed $95 (roughly Rs. 7,160) per share takeover price, reflecting potential antitrust concerns.

Another prominent investor, Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point, bought 2 million Activision shares in the fourth quarter.

Berkshire disclosed its Activision stake in a filing detailing its US-listed stock investments as of December 31.

Investors monitor Berkshire’s investments closely to see where Buffett and his investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler see value.

The filings do not say who bought and sold what, though Buffett generally handles larger investments.

Other media have quoted Buffett, a longtime friend of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, as saying he would not buy Microsoft shares because of potential conflicts of interest.

Gates ended his 16-year run on Berkshire’s board in 2020. Buffett had been a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation but resigned in 2021.

In the fourth quarter, Berkshire also added to its stake in oil company Chevron, while reducing its holdings in healthcare companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and Abbvie.

Apple remains Berkshire’s largest common stock holding.

Stock sales and Buffett’s six-year drought in buying large whole companies have contributed to Berkshire’s record $149.2 billion (roughly Rs. 11,24,835 crore) cash stake as of September 30, 2021, despite at least $21.9 billion (roughly Rs. 1,65,105 crore) of stock buybacks that year.

Berkshire is expected to disclose more about its stock purchases, buybacks and cash on February 26 when it releases year-end results and Buffett’s widely read annual shareholder letter.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company also owns dozens of businesses including the BNSF railroad, Geico auto insurance and Dairy Queen ice cream.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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