Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are in the final stages of a $69 billion deal, but are unlikely to close it in time (which expires today). The companies continue to await the final decision from UK regulators.
Both companies have no plans to exit the deal and continue to seek a final regulatory decision on closing the deal, people familiar with the matter said. In recent days, the momentum of the lawsuit has shifted in favor of the deal, as the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) failed to block it in court and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) took an unprecedented step with it announced the start of new negotiations. However, progress on the case is unlikely to be rapid enough to close the deal on time.
The potential delay underscores regulators’ impact on the UK, one of the largest markets for Microsoft and Activision games and consoles. The MCA fears the deal will dampen competition and innovation, and give players fewer choices. Microsoft, which started the deal 19 months ago, had to compromise and agree to give competitors access to Activision games.
The terms of the purchase set a date after which both companies can exit the deal, with Microsoft paying Activision $3 billion. The companies can continue operating under the current deal, allowing Activision to exit at any time. You can also try to change the agreement, although this opens up the possibility of changing the financial terms.
UK regulators rejected the deal in April over concerns about its impact on the gaming industry. A May 5 MCA veto prevents companies from completing the purchase, even though it has already received government approval from 39 countries. The MCA retained its right of veto for the duration of the ongoing negotiations. Violation of this law carries fines of up to 5% of a company’s global turnover.
UK regulators could change their minds, allowing Microsoft and Activision to complete the deal outside of the UK while the domestic companies remain independent. Negotiations in the UK are expected to last for days or weeks and the MCA has officially extended its deadline to hear the case to August 29.