Microsoft’s bid for Activision-Blizzard faces new regulatory delay in UK

Microsoft offer $68.7 billion purchases Game studio Activision Blizzard is facing closer scrutiny from regulators: a month after a US regulator asked a court to block the deal, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK regulatory body that investigates potential anti-competitive behaviour, tests, has expanded the timetable for ongoing investigation,

The UK regulator was due to publish its findings from the phase two investigation on March 1, 2023, however, in a Statement issued on 5 JanuaryThe CMA said this deadline had been pushed back to April 26, 2023. It noted that the extension was granted due to the scope and complexity of the investigation, besides the need for more time to assess the “large amount of evidence”. As well as lead party and third party submissions.”

last month, the CMA reported After inviting the public to submit their views on the merger, the regulator received 2,100 emails, of which nearly three-quarters were roughly in favor and nearly a quarter were roughly against the proposed deal.

However, despite the extension, the CMA said it aimed to complete the investigation “before this date and as soon as possible.” According to the new timetable, the CMA is expected to notify Microsoft and Activision Blizzard of their provisional findings and any necessary measures by mid-February. Interested parties will have a further opportunity to submit evidence or comment in response to the CMA’s report on its provisional findings, likely in February or March 2023, with the final report being published by 26 April.

worldwide investigation

It is not just UK regulators who are closely scrutinizing the proposed merger. In December 2022, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit seeking to block the acquisition over concerns related to Microsoft’s track record of acquiring studios and making their games exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem.

speaking at the time was suedHolly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said: “Microsoft has already shown that it can and will block content from its gaming rivals. Today we see Microsoft regaining control of a leading independent game studio and launching several dynamic and Want to prevent it from being used to harm competition in fast-growing gaming markets.

The case between Microsoft and the FTC is set to begin with a hearing in August, after which FTC Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell will decide whether the deal can move forward. Although this could end up being a lengthy process as early as January 2023, James Weingarten, an attorney representing the FTC, said during a pre-trial hearing that currently there is no “work” between the US government body and Microsoft. “Strict” negotiation is not. proposed acquisition.

Elsewhere, the European Commission is currently engaged in a fact-finding mission to self check in the proposed acquisition. As reported by ReutersThe European Commission sent a 91-page questionnaire earlier in the month regarding the acquisition, asking publishers and developers such as gaming companies whether the acquisition could result in increased prices of the publisher’s games on competing consoles or delayed games on other systems. may be issued. ,

The commission has given itself until April 11, 2023, to decide whether to approve the deal.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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