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Microsoft and OpenAI will reportedly avoid a merger probe by the EU

EU flag with Microsoft logo on the left

Microsoft has reportedly avoided another investigation by the European Union. Earlier this year, the EU's regulatory body, the European Commission, announced it was making informal inquiries about if Microsoft's partnership with OpenAI could be considered a merger due to the close relationship between the two companies.

However, Bloomberg reports, via unnamed sources, that the European Commission has decided against launching a formal probe into the two companies. It concluded that OpenAI is not being controlled by Microsoft.

Microsoft had already invested billions into OpenAI before that company's board of directors decided unexpectedly to fire its co-founder and CEO Sam Altman In November 2023. Microsoft quickly announced it would hire Altman and other OpenAI members to form a new AI team at that company.

In the end, those plans were canceled as OpenAI's board resigned and Altman was placed back in charge at the company just a few days after he was fired. Soon afterwards, OpenAI gave Microsoft a non-voting position on its new board of directors.

While Microsoft and OpenAI may not get a merger investigation from the EU, the partnership between the two companies is being looked into by other regulators.

The US Federal Trade Commission announced in January it was looking into the various investments and partnerships that tech companies were making in AI development, including that of Microsoft's investments into OpenAI.

In December 2023, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority announced it was looking to gather comments from others to find out if the relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI "has resulted in a relevant merger situation." There's been no word on the status of that informal probe since then.

In the meantime, Microsoft is trying to broaden its AI investment and partnerships beyond OpenAI. It announced earlier this year it had made a multi-year agreement with France-based Mistral AI which reportedly included an unknown but minor investment in that startup.

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