UK opens probe into Microsoft’s $69 bn acquisition of ‘Call of Duty’ maker

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The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Wednesday announced a formal investigation into Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of ‘Call of Duty’ maker Activision Blizzard.

The UK watchdog has invited comments from “any interested party” on the merger enquiry till July 20 and will announce its decision on September 1.

“The CMA is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act, 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services,” the UK agency said in a statement.

In the biggest deal ever in the world of gaming, Microsoft in January this year announced to acquire Activision Blizzard, the maker of popular games like Call of Duty (CoD) and Warcraft, for $68.7 billion.

In April, South Korea’s antitrust regulator started to review the proposed deal.

The South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said it plans to see if the merger of the two US firms could hurt competition in the online game market.

The US competition watchdog Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also reviewing Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Lina Khan-led FTC is scrutinising whether Satya Nadella-run tech giant’s move to expand its video game business will “substantially lessen competition”.

The acquisition is yet another play by the tech giant to secure its stake in the nascent Metaverse and bring more intellectual property (IP) under the Xbox and Game Pass umbrella.

When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

Following on the 2014 acquisitions of Mojang (makers of Minecraft) and 2021 acquisition of ZeniMax Media/Bethesda (makers of Doom, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout), Activision Blizzard brings IP, like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush to Microsoft’s portfolio.

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