UK Regulator Steps Up The Pressure On Microsoft And Activision Deal

Call of Duty Modern Warfare II

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently ramped up the pressure on the Microsoft deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, nearly a month after it blocked the deal from going through in its country. The CMA added more restrictions to via an interim order titled “Anticipate Acquisition by Microsoft Corporation of Activision Blizzard, Inc.”

As per the interim order, and in an effort to hinder any possible pre-emptive movement from the entities, neither Microsoft nor Activision Blizzard are allowed to invest in the other’s studios, acquire an interest in another business that holds an interest in the other or holds an option to acquire an interest in either of the mentioned examples. For either company to do that, they would need to secure prior written consent from the CMA. The new order, filed under the “Reference” section, took effect on 5 May and will end once the said Reference is finally determined.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare II screenshot 2
Source: Activision / Steam.

As a quick primer, the UK’s CMA made the unilateral decision to block Microsoft’s acquisition of developer and publisher Activision, in a stunning turn of events. The move is a U-turn from when the government’s initial thoughts last month, when it had “a significant amount of new evidence” obtained by the British regulatory body in favour of the video game company. So, to put the latest rulings in layman’s terms, neither Microsoft nor Activision Blizzard are now able to stay a step ahead of the CMA, as it navigates the UK’s legal system in order to see the acquisition go through.

Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard were against the CMA’s ruling, with the former saying that it would appeal the decision., while latter’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, said that the studio cum publisher would reassess its growth for the UK. “Global innovators large and small will take note – that despite all its rhetoric – the UK is clearly closed for business”.

(Source: Hot Hardware, Gamespot, UK Interim Order)

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