The European Commission on Monday approved Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of US video game publisher Activision Blizzard, three weeks after a British veto that jeopardized the operation.
This green light is due to Microsoft’s compliance with measures proposed by the American giant to ensure competition in the market for dematerialized games available via streaming. These commitments “completely address the competition concerns raised by the Commission,” the EU chief executive said in a statement.
In the fully consolidated video game sector, Microsoft, which sells the Xbox console, announced in January 2022 that it had acquired Activision Blizzard, the publisher of successful games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush. by $69 billion, which is a record amount in this sector.
The merger, if completed, would result in a third player in the sector in terms of turnover after China’s Tencent and Japan’s PlayStation maker Sony.
The European Commission, on guard against competition in the EU, launched an in-depth investigation into the operation in November. But the procedure allowed him to dispel his fears. However, the future of the takeover remains uncertain. Because for the first time since Brexit, Brussels and London have taken different positions on an issue of this magnitude.
The UK competition authority announced on April 26 its decision to block the mega-merger, deeming the risks too high to compete. Microsoft immediately announced that it would appeal. “This decision appears to reflect a poor understanding of this market and how cloud technology actually works,” the group said.
The green light from Brussels should give him a strong case to challenge the CMA decision at the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) in the United Kingdom. “If Microsoft does not win the CAT appeal, it will not be able to proceed with the acquisition, even if the European Commission approves it,” said Ann Witt, a competition law specialist at EDHEC. “Unless, of course, Microsoft decides to leave the UK market, but this is unlikely. »