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UK clears Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard logo on a phone screen with the background of the Call of Duty

British regulators have finally approved Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of the Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard.

Initially, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) attempted to block this megadeal in April.

The department expressed concerns that Microsoft, known for the Xbox gaming console, could gain an overwhelming presence in the emerging cloud gaming market. 

Read More: Amazon And Microsoft Face Probe Over Cloud Dominance In The UK

However, the CMA revised its stance last month after a new deal was proposed. 

This revised agreement involved Microsoft selling cloud gaming rights outside Europe to Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard's French competitor. 

The CMA indicated that these changes addressed its concerns and signaled its approval of the merger.

The CMA’s chief executive, Sarah Cardell, said the competition regulator had ensured that Microsoft couldn’t have a “stranglehold” over cloud gaming.

Read More: Microsoft Submits Revised Activision Takeover Deal To British Regulators

Cloud gaming allows users to stream video games from remote servers to their devices. 

Cardell said: “As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure people get more competitive prices, better services and more choice.”

The acquisition deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard was set to expire on October 18. 

Activision Blizzard's CEO, Bobby Kotick, expressed the company's readiness to finalise the transaction.

He said: “We now have all regulatory approvals necessary to close and we look forward to bringing joy and connection to even more players around the world.”

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The UK regulator found itself increasingly isolated in its decision to block the takeover.

It’s especially after its EU counterparts approved the deal when Microsoft proposed alternative concessions regarding cloud gaming rights. 

The US competition regulator continues to oppose the acquisition while not successfully obtaining a court injunction to halt it. 

However, it lacks the authority to prevent Microsoft and Activision from proceeding with the merger.

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Cardell said Microsoft initially pursued an unworkable deal structure before amending its proposal. 

She said: “Businesses and their advisers should be in no doubt that the tactics employed by Microsoft are no way to engage with the CMA.

“Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work.”

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