UK Regulator Set to Probe Microsoft’s Activision Buyout Deal


Britain’s antitrust watchdog said on Wednesday it had started an investigation into Microsoft $68.7 billion (roughly Rs. 5,431,35 crore) deal to buy Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had until September 1 to make its phase 1 decision on whether the deal between the US technology company and video-game maker Activision would reduce competition in the UK.

The phase 1 investigation by the CMA will either lead to the deal being cleared or will move to a more in-depth phase 2 probe.

Both Microsoft and Activision did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comments.

In the biggest gaming industry deal in history, Microsoft in January said it was buying Activision Blizzard. According to Refinitiv data, the Microsoft-Activision deal would be the largest all-cash acquisition on record. The Redmond-based software giant said that when the transaction closes, it will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval, Microsoft said. The deal is expected to close in the fiscal year 2023. Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently.

Demand for video games has surged during the pandemic, as stuck-at-home consumers play more games to keep themselves entertained. Activision’s library of games such as Call of Duty and Overwatch also gives Microsoft’s Xbox gaming platform an edge over Sony’s PlayStation, which has for years enjoyed a steadier stream of exclusive games.

Back in April, Activision Blizzard said that nearly 1,100 US-based temporary and contingent quality assurance workers of some divisions will be converted to full-time employees, starting July 1. The company said it will raise the minimum hourly wages for these employees – from the Activision Publishing and Blizzard divisions – to $20 (roughly Rs. 1,520) or more and also offer them access to full company benefits, increasing Activision Publishing division’s total full-time staff by 25 percent.

© Thomson Reuters 2022



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