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Microsoft denies it expects UK to oppose Activision Blizzard merger [Update]

The logo for the Activision Blizzard video game publisher

Update: 10:30 pm Eastern time - The New York Times story has now been amended with this statement.

Microsoft said that it believes it has a strong case in Britain and it has not predetermined, nor been advised by its lawyers, that the merger will be blocked.

The originally published article continues below:

It looks like Microsoft's planned acquistion of the video game publisher Activision Blizzard will hit a major roadblock. The New York Times (via Ars Technica) is reporting through unnamed sources that Microsoft expects the UK government's Competition and Markets Authority to oppose the $69 billion merger. The commission could issue a prelimiary report as early as this week, according to the article. A separate report on Bloomberg states that the commission could oppose the merger or perhaps approve the deal if certain conditions are met.

The UK government started its probe into the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal in July 2022, several months after the proposed merger was first announced in January 2022. The same agency launched a Phase 2 investigation in September 2022. The merger is also being investigated by the US's Federal Trade Commission and the European Union. Both of those agencies have hinted strongly they have big concerns about this deal.

If the Competition and Markets Authority does oppose the deal, Microsoft could decide to ask the country's Competition Appeal Tribunal to overturn the decision of the agency. However, such appeals rarely succeed. If an appeal fails, it could likely cause Microsoft to cancel the deal entirely even if it is approved everywhere else in the world.

In related news, Activision Blizzard announced their fourth quarter 2022 financial results today. In its press release, the company says it and Microsoft are "continuing to engage with regulators reviewing the transaction" and plan to close the deal sometime before June 30, 2023.

Source: New York Times via Ars Technica

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