Back in December, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company is confident its $69bn buyout of Activision Blizzard will be completed in 2023. It was a bold statement considering the deal is facing varying levels of scrutiny amongst regulators in the US, UK, and Europe. The CMA in the UK could also block the deal, even though Microsoft is confident the regulator will approve the purchase.
This would mean three major global authorities are actively attempting to thwart Microsoft's Activision Blizzard buyout. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently battling Microsoft through the courts to block the merger in the US. At the same time, the European Commission (EC) has given Microsoft a list of concerns amid its investigation.
In the UK, the CMA was once the easiest of the three regulators to seek approval from. However, that has changed since Brexit and the UK is trying to take more regulatory control over Big Tech companies.
While the EC remains strict on tech companies, the FTC and CMA are also clamping down. This is partly related to more cooperation between regulatory bodies. Whether it is sharing objections and cases to moving towards a unified stance.
The company says it will make concessions to ensure the EC approves the deal. For example, the company has agreed to keep Call of Duty on Nintendo consoles for the next 10 years, while a similar offer is said to be in place for Sony.
Call of Duty is at the heart of the debate between Microsoft, Sony, and regulators. While Activision Blizzard has other major franchises such as Diablo, Candy Crush, and Warcraft, Call of Duty is the big money spinner. So much so that Sony has confessed Call of Duty is irreplaceable on PlayStation.
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