CMA Extends Microsoft-Activision Review Deadline

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UK competition regulator CMA extends review deadline for Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal by six weeks as deal gains traction in US

The UK competition regulator on Friday said it would extend the deadline for its review of Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion (£53bn) takeover of videogame publisher Activision Blizzard by six weeks, following a surprise U-turn on its efforts to block the deal earlier last week.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the extension would give it more time to review proposals by the two companies to resolve its concerns, after it called for new submissions on Wednesday.

“The Inquiry Group has decided to extend by six weeks … as it considers that there are special reasons to do so. The revised period will therefore end on 29 August 2023,” the regulator said.

The date is six weeks beyond the deadline of Tuesday, 18 July earlier agreed by the two companies for the deal to close.

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Image credit: Suludan Diliyaer/Pexels

Regulatory conflict

Microsoft faces paying a $3bn breakup fee to Activision Blizzard if the deal fails to go through.

The mammoth buyout initially divided regulators, with the US’ FTC and the CMA seeking to block it on competition grounds.

But the European Commission approved the plan following concessions offered by Microsoft, and last Tuesday the US District Court for the Northern District of California refused the FTC’s request for an injunction barring Microsoft and Activision Blizzard from completing their deal.

Following the court’s decision the CMA, which had earlier repeatedly defended its moves to block the merger, told Microsoft and Activision Blizzard they could negotiate a new solution if the companies were to restructure the buyout.

‘Consider any proposals’

The CMA said last Wednesday it was “ready to consider any proposals from Microsoft to restructure the transaction”.

The CMA said the additional six weeks was needed for a “full and proper consideration” of the “detailed and complex” submissions from Microsoft, but that it “aims to discharge its duty as soon as possible and in advance of this date”.

After the FTC last week vowed to push ahead with efforts to block the deal Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company was “disappointed that the FTC is continuing to pursue what has become a demonstrably weak case”.

“We will oppose further efforts to delay the ability to move forward,” he added.