Microsoft’s pursuit of a takeover of Activision Blizzard has entered a pivotal phase as the company submitted a revised proposal to U.K. regulators after an initial bid was rejected due to antitrust concerns. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s Vice Chairman and President, emphasized that the company has made a concerted effort to address these concerns and hopes regulators will recognize its commitment.
The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will investigate the new proposal, with a decision deadline set for October 18. This follows the rejection of Microsoft’s initial $69 billion offer in April over fears that the acquisition could restrict competition in the emerging cloud gaming market.
The revised agreement includes provisions to allay concerns, such as Microsoft not acquiring cloud rights for existing and new Activision games for the next 15 years. Instead, French gaming publisher Ubisoft will assume these rights prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision.
Microsoft has navigated regulatory hurdles on various fronts. While a U.S. judge allowed the deal to proceed, EU regulators approved it in May after Microsoft offered remedies to ensure competition and access. However, the final decision in the U.K. rests with the CMA.
Smith emphasized that Microsoft has not ignored or downplayed regulatory concerns but instead worked diligently to address them. He acknowledged that technology mergers can sometimes foster innovation but also require simultaneous steps to alleviate regulatory worries.
The outcome of Microsoft’s engagement with regulators will determine the future of its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard, which could have far-reaching implications for the gaming industry and Microsoft’s broader strategic objectives.