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Microsoft’s $75bn Activision takeover blocked by UK regulator

Microsoft to empower 10m SMEs with digital tools

Competition & Markets Authority says the tech giant failed to meet concerns games would be exclusive to its cloud service

The UK competition regulator has blocked Microsoft’s $75bn acquisition of the Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, in a possibly fatal blow to the software giant’s biggest-ever deal.

The Competition & Markets Authority said on Wednesday it believed the company would be commercially motivated to make Activision’s games exclusive to its own cloud gaming service.

Activision said the ruling “contradicts the ambitions of the UK to become an attractive country to build technology businesses” and was a “disservice to UK citizens, who face increasingly dire economic prospects”.

Activision’s shares fell 11 per cent in pre-market trading.

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The CMA argued that Microsoft had failed to address its concerns about protecting innovation in the nascent cloud gaming market.

But Brad Smith, Microsoft vice-chair and president, said his group “remains fully committed to this acquisition and will appeal”, warning that the decision “discourages technology innovation and investment in the United Kingdom”.

He added that the CMA’s decision reflected “a flawed understanding of this market and the way the relevant cloud technology actually works”.

The ruling comes after the regulator retreated from a key concern in March, in a step that had appeared to pave the way for the two sides to inch the deal through. The companies had hoped to reassure the CMA that licensing deals signed with cloud gaming platforms would be sufficient to clear the takeover.

This is a developing story

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023