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Competition watchdog to investigate Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard

Microsoft’s proposed multibillion-pound acquisition of video game-maker Activision Blizzard is to be investigated by the UK’s competition regulator (Niall Carson/PA)
Microsoft’s proposed multibillion-pound acquisition of video game-maker Activision Blizzard is to be investigated by the UK’s competition regulator (Niall Carson/PA)

Microsoft’s proposed multibillion-pound acquisition of video game-maker Activision Blizzard is to be investigated by the UK’s competition regulator.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it will consider whether the 68.7 billion dollar (£57.7 billion) merger, which was announced in January, could harm competition and lead to “worse outcomes for consumers”.

US gaming giant Activision Blizzard is best known as the maker of the Call Of Duty, World Of Warcraft and Candy Crush franchises, which each have millions of players around the world.

Technology giant Microsoft is not only a household name in the computing world for its hardware and Windows operating system, but also makes the Xbox gaming console range.

The CMA said it wants to examine whether the deal could harm consumers by leading to “higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice”.

The CMA said it has until September 1 to decide if it believes the merger may harm competition, and, if it believes it could, it will launch an in-depth investigation into the deal.

It added that it will engage “as appropriate” with its competition authority counterparts around the world who are also looking into the merger.

The regulator said it is also inviting views on the deal from interested third parties, with a submission deadline of July 20, as part of its initial assessment.

Responding to the CMA, Lisa Tanzi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel, said: “We will fully co-operate with the CMA’s merger review. We expect and think it’s appropriate for regulators to take a close look at this acquisition.

“We have been clear about how we plan to run our gaming business and why we believe the deal will benefit gamers, developers, and the industry.

“We’re committed to answering questions from regulators and ultimately believe a thorough review will help the deal close with broad confidence, and that it will be positive for competition.

“We remain confident the deal will close in fiscal year 2023 as initially anticipated.”