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Microsoft and Activision Delay Deal to Settle UK Regulatory Issues

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard said Wednesday they are delaying a $69 billion merger as the two companies struggle to get final approval from British antitrust regulators.

The new extension, set for October 18, signals that both companies believe they will complete the deal but need more time to address regulators’ concerns.

When Microsoft announced its plans to acquire video game publisher Activision in early 2022, the two companies set a July 18 deadline this year to complete the deal. The revised agreement introduced an increasing breakup fee that Microsoft would have to pay to Activision if the purchase fell below $3 billion by August 29, and then rose to $4.5 billion if it did not close by September 15. She goes.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said, “We are confident in our chances of closing this deal.” wrote on twitter,

Activision Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick said, “While we remain concerned about the economy and increased industry competition, we are focused on the long-term opportunities ahead and on completing our merger with Microsoft.” said in a statement,

The antitrust investigation has focused on whether consumers would be harmed if Microsoft, which makes the Xbox video game console and a new game streaming platform, also owns the game publisher behind blockbusters like Call of Duty.

The three regulators eventually became the most important gatekeepers of the acquisition. The deal got the green light from the European Union after Microsoft agreed in May to offer Activision games on other streaming platforms. But it faced major opposition in the United States and Britain.

In December, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit in the agency’s administrative court opposing the acquisition, arguing that Microsoft could keep Call of Duty away from Sony’s popular PlayStation console. And in June, the FTC asked a federal judge to suspend the deal until the administrative process proceeded. that judge ruled against the FTC last week, and an appeals court on Friday rejected the agency’s request to block the deal from closing.

The British antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, moved to stop the deal in April, saying it could harm consumers who stream games online. Microsoft and Activision appealed against this finding.

Last week, shortly after a federal judge rejected the FTC’s attempt to block the deal, Microsoft, Activision and the British antitrust regulator said they wanted to pause appeal proceedings to see if they could resolve regulatory concerns. Can negotiate on the arrangement. On Monday, the regulator told the tribunal dealing with the appeal that there was a “real prospect” of the talks being successful. tribunal given Two months stay on appeal.

On Sunday, Microsoft also said it has reached an agreement with Sony to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years, addressing one of the biggest concerns raised by the FTC in court. Typically, the FTC withdraws its administrative case if it loses in federal court, but it has not yet backed down from its objections to Microsoft’s acquisition plans.

Adam Satariano Contributed reporting.

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