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The UK is looking into if Microsoft and Amazon's AI partnerships fall under merger rules

UK flag with Microsoft logo on it

The partnerships that Microsoft and Amazon have made with AI-based companies are now the subject of a preliminary investigation by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The regulator announced today it is taking comments about these partnerships ahead of a possible formal probe.

The press release says that the CMA is looking into Microsoft's partnership with France-based Mistral AI. The two companies announced their collaboration earlier this year, with Microsoft reportedly putting in a small and unknown financial stake in Mistral.

In addition, the CMA is also looking into the "hiring of former employees and related arrangements with Inflection AI" Microsoft announced it was launching a new AI division in March, and hired Mustafa Suleyman, the co-founder of Inflection AI, to be the head of that division. Another Inflection AI co-founder, Karen Simonyan, also joined the Microsoft AI division as its chief scientist.

The CMA is also looking into Amazon's partnership with the AI company Anthropic. Amazon recently announced it was increasing its investment in Anthropic up to a total of $4 billion along with a minority stake in the company.

In today's press release, the CMA stated:

Foundation Models have the potential to fundamentally impact the way we all live and work, including products and services across so many UK sectors – healthcare, energy, transport, finance and more. So open, fair, and effective competition in Foundation Model markets is critical to making sure the full benefits of this transformation are realised by people and businesses in the UK, as well as our wider economy where technology has a huge role to play in growth and productivity.

The regulator will take comments on these partnerships until May 9. The CMA will then consider whether one or more of these business agreements are indeed covered by UK merger rules.

The CMA previously announced it was taking comments and seeking information on Microsoft's investment and relationship into OpenAI if that partnership fell under UK merger rules. Today's press release stated the CMA is "currently waiting for information it has requested from the firms."

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