Microsoft is reportedly planning to finalise its US $68.7 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard this week, on Friday, 13 October 2023, per sources speaking to The Verge. The date has reportedly been chosen based on the decision-making of the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is expected to hand down its final, official verdict on the acquisition after a months-long deliberation process.
In late September 2023, the CMA handed down a provisional approval for the acquisition, following an appeals process which determined that Microsoft had provided ample caveats to address concerns about the company potentially gaining a monopoly in the cloud streaming arena. While this provisional approval was not final, it was not expected to change ahead of a now-expired decision-making deadline in early October.
The CMA has yet to reveal its final verdict, but this is expected to be released this week, ahead of a firmer 18 October 2023 deadline. The Verge reports that Microsoft expects the verdict early, and that it has arranged plans to formalise its acquisition by Friday.
Should this happen as expected, we’ll likely see change in the coming weeks, as Microsoft initiates acquisition proceedings – in whatever form they may take. The finalisation of the deal will mark the end of a 20-month legal battle with multiple global regulatory bodies.
Notably, Microsoft is still battling with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the incoming deal, with this organisation pursuing an appeal, and a separate administrative case against Microsoft, despite initially being denied an injunction to stop the Activsion Blizzard acquisition.
“The FTC continues to believe this deal is a threat to competition,” Victoria Graham, FTC spokesperson said in late September 2023. This challenge will be pursued in the coming weeks – although it does appear Microsoft will be allowed to proceed with its planned acquisition, as long as the CMA approval goes ahead.
A decision on the FTC’s initial appeal is expected in December 2023, well after this deadline. In addition, its administrative case may go ahead 21 days after the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, further complicating matters. As stated by The Verge, the FTC could “attempt to undo” the Activision Blizzard deal with this process, but for now, it does appear plans are going full steam ahead. Stay tuned for more details as the CMA hands down its final verdict.