Wednesday, September 27, 2023

UK Regulator Reconsiders Microsoft-Activision Deal as Court Pauses Appeal

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Microsoft-Activision Deal


  • UK regulator reviews Microsoft’s Activision takeover after court’s adjournment.
  • Competition and Markets Authority considers Microsoft’s arguments for deal reconsideration.
  • Microsoft cites binding commitments to the EU and agreements with other companies as reasons for approval.
  • CMA aims to reach a new view on the restructured deal in early August.
  • CMA’s proposed block seen as going beyond necessary measures to address cloud gaming concerns.

In a significant development, the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal is once again under the scrutiny of Britain’s antitrust regulator. The appeals court has granted an adjournment, prompting the publication of grounds for reconsidering the block on the U.S. software giant’s takeover bid.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) presented Microsoft’s arguments for the deal’s reconsideration. As the U.S. seeks UK approval for the acquisition of “Call of Duty” maker Activision, the CMA is carefully reviewing the case.

Initially blocked in April due to concerns about its impact on competition in the cloud gaming market, the $69 billion deal has caught the attention of world regulators. The CMA has reopened the file, seeking a new provisional view on the restructured deal by the week beginning August 7.

Microsoft contends that binding commitments accepted by the European Union following the UK’s initial block have changed the landscape. The software company committed to allowing Activision games to be streamed for a decade after the merger and has established agreements with NVIDIA, Boosteroid, and Ubitus.

A monitoring and enforcement regime will be implemented to address the CMA’s concerns. Microsoft argues that the CMA’s proposed block extended further than necessary to address cloud gaming issues, including coverage of Activision Blizzard’s King unit, known for mobile games like Candy Crush Saga.

Additionally, Microsoft considers its recent licensing deal with Sony as a material change of circumstance or special reason for revisiting it.

Despite the failure of U.S. authorities to block the deal in their courts, the CMA remains committed to reevaluating the case. The Competition Appeal Tribunal provisionally approved the adjournment, subject to further submissions from the parties, and formalized it on Friday.

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Ethan Rivers
Ethan Rivers
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