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UK regulator seeks public input on Microsoft-Activision deal


LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) – Britain’s antitrust regulator on Monday called for public responses on whether Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard, maker of video game “Call of Duty”, should be cleared ahead of a final decision by Aug. 29.

Microsoft says the deal, which the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked in April, should be revisited given legally-binding commitments to the European Commission and a licensing deal with Sony.

The U.S. software giant said, in arguments published on Monday, that its agreements that NVIDIA, Boosteroid and Ubitus can licence Activision games for a decade after the merger have already improved competition in the cloud gaming market.

Microsoft also said any breach of its commitments would mean European approval would no longer be valid and put it at risk of fines of up to 10% of its worldwide turnover, which would amount to $19.8 billion if based on its 2022 turnover.

Its deal with Sony to keep “Call of Duty” on its PlayStation console for a decade is also significant in terms of the impact of the Activision deal and “addresses the primary concern of the most outspoken opponent of the merger,” Microsoft said.

The CMA called for anyone wishing to comment on the new version of Microsoft’s takeover to do so by Aug. 4. It said it is aiming to make a final decision on the deal by Aug. 29.

A court involved in the case had already published Microsoft’s argument that the binding commitments accepted by the European Commission shortly after Britain blocked the deal had changed the situation.

Microsoft’s appeal against the CMA’s original decision was put on hold earlier this month to give the parties more time to resolve the dispute.

The pause followed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC)unsuccessful attempt to temporarily halt the deal.

Microsoft said that evidence that emerged in that case, which the FTC has since dropped, also bolstered its case the deal should go ahead.

Reporting by Sarah Young and Sam Tobin; Editing by Kate Holton and Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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