UK Further Restricts Microsoft-Activision Buy

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UK CMA regulator places further restrictions on Microsoft and Activision to ‘prevent pre-emptive action’ by companies

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has further restricted Xbox maker Microsoft and gaming studio Activision Blizzard from “acquiring an interest” in one another.

The move disclosed in an interim order comes after the regulator blocked Microsoft’s $68.7 billion (£54.8bn) acquisition of Activision Blizzard late last month.

The order states that the firms would need “prior written consent” before they or their subsidiaries can make acquisitions between the companies.

The order also prevents the firms from acquiring interests in businesses that themselves have interests in the companies.

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‘Pre-emptive action’

The CMA said in the order it was “preventing pre-emptive action” by Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

The order says the companies should “immediately notify the CMA” if they have “any reason to suspect” the order has been breached.

Microsoft said in a statement: “We remain firmly committed to this deal and look forward to presenting our case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.”

Following the initial ruling last month the company said it planned to appeal.

The CMA is the first regulator to issue a ruling on the deal, which must be approved by the US, the UK and the EU.

EU approval

The US Federal Trade Commission has also sued to block the merger.

However, the EU is expected to take its own path and approve the merger on Monday.

EU regulators obtained concessions from Microsoft over the deal, saying it would open Activision’s game library to rival gaming platforms such as those made by competitor Sony for a 10-year period.

Unlike the EU, the CMA’s case focused on the relatively nascent but fast-growing cloud gaming market, deciding that the concessions offered by Microsoft in that field were not sufficient to prevent harm to competition.