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Activision buys Candy Crush maker King for $5.9 billion

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Call of Duty and Candy Crush now part of the same company

Activision Blizzard announced today it will acquire King Digital Entertainment, the company behind mobile hits Candy Crush Saga and Bubble Witch Saga, in a $5.9 billion deal. The acquisition of King will make Activision Blizzard "one of the largest global entertainment networks with over half a billion combined monthly active users in 196 countries," according to a release.

The acquisition is subject to approval by King's shareholders and the Irish government, but is expected to be complete by spring 2016, Activision Blizzard said.

"The combined revenues and profits solidify our position as the largest, most profitable standalone company in interactive entertainment," said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, in a release. "With a combined global network of more than half a billion monthly active users, our potential to reach audiences around the world on the device of their choosing enables us to deliver great games to even bigger audiences than ever before."

The acquisition of King will add "two of the top five highest-grossing mobile games in the U.S. (Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga)" to Activision Blizzard's portfolio. Last year, King had three of the 10 top-grossing games on the iTunes and Google Play app stores, generating $2.1 billion in adjusted revenue. King had 533 million monthly active users in 2014, and its games were played more than 1.5 billion times per day. In its most recent quarter, King had 474 million monthly active users. King was founded in 2003.

Adding King to its business offers "potential cross-network growth opportunities," Activision said.

"Combining one of the largest mobile gaming communities with Activision Blizzard's leading franchises creates potential opportunities to grow and cross-promote content to a diverse audience, while providing players more opportunities to engage with its content," the company said in a release.

King will continue as an independent operating unit under CEO Riccardo Zacconi, chief creative offer Sebastian Knutsson and chief operating officer Stephane Kurgan.