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Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Call of Duty mega-publisher Activision Blizzard is likely going to be subjected to another hurdle, as Reuters reports an antitrust warning is going to be issued by the European Union regulators sometime soon.
Per Reuters, the European Commission is preparing a “statement of objections,” which will spell out the regulator's various issues with the deal. The EU watchdog has until April 11 to come to a decision on the Activision Blizzard purchase, but it’s expected the statement of objections will be sent within the next few weeks. The European Commission declined to comment on the Reuters report, while Microsoft insists they’ll do what needs to be done to address the watchdog’s concerns.
"We're continuing to work with the European Commission to address any marketplace concerns. Our goal is to bring more games to more people, and this deal will further that goal."
Last month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission officially sued Microsoft in order to block the Activision Blizzard deal, saying it would “enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.” By comparison, the situation with the EU seems somewhat less tense – while the European Commission will no doubt demand further concessions, they aren’t taking Microsoft to court. Analysts still expect the Acti-Blizz deal to go through, but not before regulators extract a lot of promises from Microsoft.
In addition to merger-related wrangling, Activision Blizzard has faced a series of lawsuits and other legal action on the heels of a suit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty publisher. You can get more details on that unfolding story here.
What do you think? As we head into 2023, do you think the Activision Blizzard deal gets done this year? Or does it all end up falling apart?