It looks like Microsoft has found their second major hurdle in regards to their pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), also known as the UK Competition Watchdog, has announced that they are officially launching an investigation into the deal, which is set at an astounding $68.7 billion, the largest attempted purchase in video game industry history. The purpose for this probe is to determine whether the deal is indeed fair for the market, as Microsoft will undoubtedly obtain a plethora of new IPs for their umbrella system.
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According to a statement made by the CMA, their main intent on this investigation is to “consider whether the deal could harm competition and lead to worse outcomes for consumers – for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” A regulator will be running a consultation through July 20, during which they want to receive as much feedback as possible from any interested third parties who wanted to inquire about the deal. A deadline of September 1 has been set for the CMA to give its final review on the situation.
The CMA joins their American counterpart, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which is also looking into the proposed deal after several U.S. Senators sent a letter to the organization regarding their concerns. Since the purchase pertains to studios from around the world, the CMA could end up prohibiting the deal if they deem it a threat to the video game market. They can also request that the deal be amended such as divesting parts of their business in order to make it a bit more fair.
These concerns, whether founded or unfounded, are only one aspect of the deal, which has seen several different forms of opinions since it was announced this past January. Some of these instances include the Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, and how his position has more or less created controversy, especially should the deal go through. There’s also the matter of the lawsuit from the New York City’s Employees’ Retirement System, in which they believe that Activision Blizzard themselves have not acted in good faith, and were instead disingenuous with the purchase.
Either way, both Activision Blizzard and Microsoft are still hoping that the deal is approved by both sides and will eventually go through. The companies plan on having it completed by the first half of 2023, which was emphasized when Activision Blizzard shareholders approved Microsoft’s purchase this past April. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but what is for sure is that a lot more information is going to come out of this whole thing before all is said and done.