Microsoft faces EU antitrust warning over Activision deal – sources

Microsoft faces EU antitrust warning over Activision deal – sources

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BRUSSELS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Microsoft (MSFT.O) likely to receive EU antitrust warning over $69 billion bid for “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O)That could pose another challenge to closing the deal, people familiar with the matter said.

The European Commission is preparing a charge sheet, known as a statement of objections, outlining its concerns about the deal, which will be sent to Microsoft in the coming weeks, the people said.

The EU’s antitrust watchdog, which has set an April 11 deadline for its decision on the deal, declined to comment.

Microsoft said: “We continue to work with the European Commission to address any market concerns. Our goal is to bring more games to more people, and this deal will further that goal.”

The US software giant and Xbox maker announced the acquisition in January last year to help it better compete with leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T).

The Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed over the Activision Blizzard logo shown in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

However, US and UK regulators have raised concerns, with the US Federal Trade Commission going to court to block the deal.

Microsoft was expected to offer legal remedies to EU regulators in an attempt to stave off prosecution and shorten the regulatory process, other sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in November.

However, the EU competition watchdog is not expected to be open to a legal defense without first sending its charge sheet, although there are ongoing informal discussions about the concessions, the people said.

Last month, Microsoft reached a 10-year deal with Nintendo (7974.T) to make “Call of Duty” available on Nintendo consoles, saying it was open to a similar deal with Sony, which has been critical of the acquisition.

The deal received the green light without conditions in Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Serbia.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee Editing by Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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