Microsoft to Make Last-Ditch Effort to Defend Attempted $69 Billion Acquisition of Call of Duty Maker Activision Blizzard

Gaming

Microsoft will make a last-ditch effort to defend its $69 billion (roughly Rs. 5,71,800 crore) bid for “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard in front of EU and national antitrust officials at a closed hearing on February 21, the U.S. software company said on Tuesday.

The company asked for the hearing after receiving a statement of objections from the European Commission warning about the possible anti-competitive effects of the deal.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the oral hearing.

The Xbox maker announced the Activision Blizzard acquisition in January last year to help it compete better with leaders Tencent and Sony, but has run into regulatory headwinds in Europe, Britain and the United States.

Microsoft is expected to offer remedies after the hearing.

It has reached a 10-year deal with Nintendo to make “Call of Duty” available on Nintendo consoles, a remedy aimed at convincing competition enforcers but which has been criticised by Sony, which wants the deal to be blocked.

Last month, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan met EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager to discuss Microsoft’s bid for Activision Blizzard.

The US Federal Trade Commission has sued to block the deal while UK regulators have also expressed concerns, arguing it would give Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo consoles and Sony’s PlayStation out in the cold.

An earlier report suggested that Microsoft argued that the deal would benefit gamers and gaming companies alike, offering to sign a legally binding consent decree with the FTC to provide Call of Duty games to rivals including Sony for a decade.

Michael Chappell, the FTC administrative law judge, will rule on the deal after hearings set for August 2023.

The deal currently faces scrutiny in the European Union which is to decide by March 23 whether to clear or block the deal.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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