Even authorities overseas are placing Microsoft’s $68.7 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard under intense scrutiny. The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has launched an investigation into the deal made between the Xbox powerhouse and the Call of Duty publisher in January.
According to a report from CNBC, the CMA released a statement saying that the investigation would “consider whether the deal would harm competition and lead to worse outcomes for consumers — for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” As such, it will be collecting information from interested third parties until July 20.
The CMA has set September 1 as its deadline for a decision. On that day, it will either determine that there’s no issue with the acquisition, or that further investigation is needed.
Microsoft responded to the news of the investigation with a statement (per IGN) saying that it will fully cooperate with authorities from across the pond, adding that it is confident the deal with Activision Blizzard will close in fiscal year 2023 as expected.
“We will fully cooperate with the CMA’s merger review. We expect and think it’s appropriate for regulators to take a close look at this acquisition,” said Lisa Tanzi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel. “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.”
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has caused plenty of controversy inside and outside the gaming industry. And it’s not just because of the huge price tag.
In March, three men who invested $108 million into Activision Blizzard before the acquisition were being investigated for insider trading, which is illegal in the U.S. In April, four U.S. senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to oppose the deal if it is found to “enhance monopoly and worsen the negotiating position between workers and the parties to this deal,” even though it was already reviewing the deal two months before. In May, New York City sued Activision Blizzard, alleging that CEO Bobby Kotick only expedited the sale of the company to Microsoft to escape liability and accountability for the sexual misconduct and gender discrimination that occurred under his watch, devaluing its stocks in the process.
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