Microsoft is reportedly expecting and preparing for the UK CMA to reject their acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.
Video Games Chronicle cites a New York Times report on the matter, who states that “Microsoft’s legal team also expects the antitrust authority in Britain to oppose the transaction”.
This follows a series of setbacks for the deal to push through, as the US FTC sued Microsoft from blocking the deal, and EU has submitted their own objections from the deal going through.
Microsoft has continued to express confidence they will be able to push through with the deal, as these objections would naturally be part of the process of getting the acquisition approved. Microsoft is willing to make concessions to regulators to get their approval, and the process they are going through with both the UK CMA and the European Commission is in line with how they usually get approval.
Regulators in many other countries have already signed off on the deal, and if there’s any true outlier in this case, it would be the FTC. Unlike other regulators, the FTC did not even have any discussion with Microsoft about the deal, and seemingly jumped to conclusions when they sued Microsoft, well ahead of the EU’s and CMA’s processes.
There are also accusations of bad faith going around when it comes to investigation on the deal. Microsoft actually accused PlayStation head Jim Ryan of lying to the European Commission head Margrethe Vestager about the deal. This revolves around Sony’s claim that the deal would harm competition between Sony and Microsoft, because Sony would then lose access to Activision’s Call of Duty franchise on their platforms. Microsoft has publicly stated they have been trying to get a ten year deal with Sony for Call of Duty, but Sony has not accepted their offers. Microsoft now states that Jim lied about Call of Duty exclusivity to the EU.
There is also an accusation going around that the FTC blocked the possibility of a deal between Microsoft and EU by preempting them with the said lawsuit. If true, FTC management seems to have been acting with little regard for the merits of the case, and without considering the wellbeing of the stakeholders involved.
Those stakeholders include Nvidia and Google, who have chimed in with their own objections to the deal. It also includes Activision Blizzard King themselves, who made clear where they stood, publicly talking about Sony’s dominance in the industry. It makes one wonder what the industry would look like if Activision were not acquired but kept this hostility for the PlayStation manufacturer.
But for now, nothing has been decided, even in the FTC courtroom. We will continue to wait and see if Microsoft’s deal with Activision Blizzard King will push through in the next few months.