The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently published provisional findings of its investigation into Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. With a final report set to be published in April, the regulatory body has provisionally concluded that should the deal be allowed to go through, it could potentially “harm gamers” and lead to “higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation”.
However, according to industry analysts Nick McKay and Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities (via GamesIndustry), the CMA’s report is a “signal” that it “knows it has a losing legal argument”. As per the analysts, like the US’ FTC – which has filed an antitrust lawsuit to oppose the acquisition – the CMA “accelerated its formal objection to the deal and proposed remedies in order to step in front of the FTC and gain bragging rights”.
“We read today’s release as a signal that the UK knows it has a losing legal argument,” the analysts said. “In our view, the FTC figured this out late last year, and rushed to file suit to block the merger in the hopes of being first to extract concessions from Microsoft. We believe that the CMA reached the same conclusion during its review, and accelerated its formal objection to the deal and proposed remedies in order to step in front of the FTC and gain bragging rights.
“The FTC has as yet to offer proposed remedies, and the CMA, by listing onerous structural remedies, has positioned itself to be the ‘dragon slayer’ in this action.”
The analysts expect Microsoft to agree to behavioural remedies in order for the deal to be approved, which could include committing to keeping Call of Duty games on all platforms for a certain period. The company has already
Finally, the analysts have also said that the acquisition is likely to be closed by the middle of May.
In addition to the FTC and the CMA, the Xbox-Activision deal is also being scrutinized by the EU, with the European Commission recently having issued an antitrust warning regarding the same.