We may be close to the end when it comes to all the regulation that has stopped the Microsoft – Activision deal from finalizing.
Tom Warren, who has covered the deal alongside other video games press and media, sent this post out from Threads today:
“October 6th is the CMA’s deadline for feedback on its provisional approval of the deal. With that in mind and barring any issues, I’m expecting Microsoft will finalize and close its acquisition next week, ending a 20-month process.”
While the CMA’s initial decision was to ‘prevent’ the Microsoft – Activision deal, they were compelled to reverse course when Microsoft filed their appeal. It wasn’t Microsoft themselves that were doing the compelling here, as the CMA faced criticism from different members of the UK government for making this decision. After the EU decided to approve the deal, this situation took on an extra political dimension, as the contrast between the two regulators’ decisions seemed to also reflect on the UK’s decisionmaking on Brexit.
It became a narrative of EU making choices that would benefit their consumers and businesses, and UK making the wrong decisions that would only harm themselves. What seemed to be a defining moment in this backlash against the CMA, was MP Bim Afolami questioning CMA boss Sarah Cardell if she was considering their country’s international reputation.
The UK government also received some pressure on this end from Microsoft, but Microsoft played their cards carefully. They talked to the CMA and convinced the UK courts to halt the appeal process. This was because Microsoft was going to try to convince the CMA to accept their deal with even more amendments.
Two weeks ago, the CMA finally gave provisional approval to the Microsoft Activision deal. A key reason that the CMA reversed course was the shocking final amendment to the deal: Ubisoft was added in, as a new company in charge of Activision Blizzard’s cloud game streaming.
The CMA itself is the only meaningful block to this merger from happening. While the FTC brought back their internal court case against the deal, the FTC failed to get an injunction in federal court. Therefore, the FTC cannot enforce any ruling against the deal, if their internal judge does decide to rule for the FTC and against Microsoft and Activision.
If the deal does finalize this month, it would be a fitting end to what has been a nearly two year saga for Microsoft and Activision, and also, quite the end for Microsoft’s 2023.