UK’s CMA Intensifies Stance with Temporary Ban on $69B Microsoft-Activision Deal

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The Microsoft-Activision merger has been in the headlines since it was announced last year, and since April, the CMA went from blocking the merger to a full temporary ban.

It has been just over two weeks since the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) vetoed the $69 billion merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. They’ve recently taken it a step further by implementing a temporary ban on the deal. The order issued by the CMA goes into detail on what is required from both parties to remain within the new boundary limits set by the ban, and neither Microsoft nor Activision Blizzard can stake an interest in merging without “prior written consent of the CMA.”

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Interestingly, while the CMA continues to clamp down on the deal, EU antitrust regulators are reported to approve the $69 billion merger as early as May 15th but have until May 22nd to make a final decision, according to Reuters. All of these new developments come after the fact that Japan’s antitrust regulators have already greenlit the acquisition back in March, saying the merger wouldn’t harm competition.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said “The impact of this decision is far broader than on Microsoft or this acquisition alone. Microsoft has been in the United Kingdom for 40 years, and we play a vital role not just in supporting businesses and non-profits but even in defending the nation from cybersecurity threats. This decision, I have to say, is probably the darkest day in our four decades in Britain” on the decision to block the merger back in April. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick echoed this sentiment, calling the decision “irrational.”

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While the CMA continues to be the sharpest thorn in the side of the largest merger in gaming history, Microsoft and Activision will remain embroiled in the appeals process of the merger. Fans interested in reading the CMA’s original order can check out the UK site.

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