The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued an interim order stating that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard “prior written consentby the UK regulator before they acquire shares from each other. Put simply, Microsoft can’t buy Activision stock and vice versa — the same goes for subsidiaries.
It comes two weeks after regulators blocked Microsoft’s $68.7 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard. The acquisition would give Microsoft gaming hits like Call of Duty, Overwatch and World of Warcraft, but regulators said they were concerned the deal would result in less innovation and less choice for gamers in the cloud gaming business.
Microsoft and Activision criticized the decision and said they would appeal, with an Activision official saying the UK “obviously closed“. For the deal to go through, it will need approval from regulators in the UK, US and European Union – many other countries have already approved the acquisition. The CMA was the first regulator to make a decision in April. The EU is expected to make a decision in May.
The CMA’s interim order states that the agency “prevents preventive measuresfrom Microsoft or Activision Blizzard. The document prevents the acquisition of shares in companies from one another, including their subsidiaries, or from companies that themselves hold shares in companies, for example:
- Activision Blizzard cannot invest in Microsoft Xbox Game Studios
- Microsoft can’t invest in Activision Blizzard subsidiaries like King, the studio that makes the popular mobile game Candy Crush Saga.
The regulation states that companies “Notify CMA immediately” if you have “any reason to suspectthat the order has been violated. A Microsoft spokesman told BBC News: “We stand by this agreement and look forward to bringing our case to the Competition Appeals Tribunal“.