New hope for Microsoft-Activision deal after UK regulator reopens consultation

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The UK’s antitrust watchdog has called for more public input on Microsoft’s bid for Activision-Blizzard, renewing hopes that the deal will be approved.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) originally blocked the $69bn (€63bn) merger in April. At the time, the regulator cited concerns that Microsoft would gain an unfair edge in cloud gaming and that consumer choice would be inhibited.

The shock move was a potentially fatal blow to the takeover of Activision, which owns the Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and Warcraft franchises. Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, called the decision “bad for Britain” and his company’s “darkest day” in the country. He promised to appeal the ruling.

As the backlash grew, the CMA increasingly became an outlier among regulators. In July, the European Commission rubber-stamped the acquisition, after Microsoft made a deal with arch-rival Sony to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Days later, the US  Federal Trade Commission — another chief opponent of the bid — failed to secure an injunction against the transaction.

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In light of these developments, Microsoft asked the CMA to reconsider the takeover. In response, the regulator has agreed to reopen its consultation.

Both the public and businesses have been invited to provide input on the merger. The deadline for comments is this Friday.

“Submissions of this nature are possible but are very rare,” a CMA spokesperson said on Monday. “We will consider Microsoft’s submissions carefully, along with other responses from interested parties, ahead of the 29 August statutory deadline.”

If you’d like to provide comments, you can email them to [email protected].

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