Microsoft Activision Blizzard Deal Going Through After UK CMA Approves

Microsoft and Activision rejoice!

Microsoft Activision Blizzard acquisition deal is finally going through after the UK CMA has approved it.

A few days ago, it was reported that the UK regulator the Competition and Markets Authority was going to rule on the Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal soon and it was actually today. The UK CMA was the only one left blocking the deal and with its approval, it would finally push through later in October 2023.

Today, it was confirmed by the UK CMA that the new deal addresses its previous concerns and “opens the door to the deal being cleared.” Microsoft’s October 18, 2023 deadline is now going to be a reality thanks to them.

The group stated that it had “limited residual concerns” that certain provisions in the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft could be circumvented, terminated, or not enforced. Microsoft responded by offering various remedies to ensure the terms of the sale are enforceable by the CMA.

The UK CMA has now provisionally concluded this additional protection must settle those residual concerns. It is also now consulting on the remedies before they make the final decision.

CMA CEO Sarah Cardell actually criticized Microsoft for not offering this new deal earlier. “The CMA’s position has been consistent throughout – this merger could only go ahead if competition, innovation, and choice in cloud gaming was preserved,” she said. “In response to our original prohibition, Microsoft has now substantially restructured the deal, taking the necessary steps to address our original concerns.”

“It would have been far better, though, if Microsoft had put forward this restructure during our original investigation. This case illustrates the costs, uncertainty and delay that parties can incur if a credible and effective remedy option exists but is not put on the table at the right time.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith commented: “We are encouraged by this positive development in the CMA’s review process. We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work toward earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline.”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick called UK CMA’s approval “critical to completing our merger”. This was from an email to employees.

“The next step is for the CMA to gather third-party feedback, after which the CMA will reach a final decision,” Kotick said.

“As I said when we announced the deal, this transaction will help us accelerate our ambitions for the future of gaming and enable us to better serve our players. Microsoft recognizes the commitment to excellence and creative independence that has served us well for the last 30 years. I am confident that their resources, technology, and tools will provide us even greater opportunities to create even better games.

“This is a significant milestone for the merger and a testament to our solutions-oriented work with regulators. I remain optimistic as we continue the journey toward completion and am very grateful to each of you for your dedication and focus throughout this process.

As the regulators continue their process, I will keep you updated on our progress towards our expected closing.”