UK regulator extends deadline for Microsoft-Blizzard deal

LONDON – Britain’s competition watchdog said on Friday it would extend the deadline for its review MicrosoftThe video game publisher that bought Activision Blizzard six weeks ago.

The delay would give regulators more time to review proposals put forward by the two parties to address concerns after they suspended activities to block the deal.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority said: “The investigation team has decided to extend the six weeks … because it considers that there are exceptional reasons for doing so. The revised period will therefore end on 29 August 2023.” friday says.

British regulators have been staunchly opposed to Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, blocking the deal in April over competition concerns in the nascent cloud gaming market.

The CMA appeared to soften its tone earlier this week, saying it was ready to resume discussions with the Redmond tech giant. The stance softened after an attempt by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to block the deal was thrown out by a judge.

FTC appeals to suspend Microsoft-Activision deal

“We stand ready to consider any proposals from Microsoft to restructure the transaction to address the concerns raised in our final report,” a CMA spokesperson told CNBC via email on Tuesday.

The CMA’s concerns centered on the possibility of Microsoft making Activision games exclusive to its own platform, as the tech giant sets its sights on the burgeoning market for cloud gaming — a technology that would effectively allow users to stream video games on remote servers. transfer games such as Netflix What audiences do with movies.

Many of the concessions Microsoft has made to the CMA have so far failed to bear fruit. These include deals to license some games from Microsoft and Activision to other cloud gaming providers. However, the CMA flatly rejected these proposals, effectively saying that they would be difficult to enforce and not sufficient to protect competition in the cloud gaming market.

Now, Microsoft and Activision need to come up with a new proposal that goes further than that to allay the CMA’s concerns. Analysts told CNBC that this could include strengthening licensing deals and possibly even spinning off its cloud gaming business in the UK.

In February, the CMA issued a notice of possible remedial measures, including the sale of its unit related to the hit game Call of Duty and the divestiture of parts of Activision Blizzard. At the time, Microsoft said it wasn’t feasible.

on Friday, Bloomberg Citing people familiar with the matter, the report said that Microsoft may sell some of its cloud-based gaming market rights in the UK to other companies to appease the CMA.

The deal, which has also faced U.S. opposition, appeared to gain traction in the U.S. earlier this week after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of both companies. The U.S. Federal Tracing Commission has since appealed on Wednesday its decision to deny the preliminary injunction request, which would have prevented the deal from being completed.

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