Microsoft and Activision Blizzard announced Wednesday they are postponing their $69 billion merger as the companies struggle for final approval from UK antitrust regulators.
The new extension, set for Oct. 18, indicates that while the companies believe they will complete the deal, more time is needed to satisfy regulators’ concerns.
When Microsoft announced plans to acquire video game publisher Activision in early 2022, the two companies set a deadline of July 18 this year to close the deal. Under the amended deal, the split fee that Microsoft must pay to Activision if the deal fails will go from $3 billion by Aug. 29 to $3 billion if the deal isn’t completed by Sept. 15. was introduced to increase to a maximum of $4.5 billion.
“We are confident in our ability to complete this transaction,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. wrote on twitter.
“While we remain concerned about increasing competition in the economy and industry, we remain focused on the long-term opportunities ahead and the completion of our merger with Microsoft,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision. says. said in a statement.
The antitrust investigation shows that if Microsoft, which makes the Xbox video game console and operates the fledgling game-streaming platform, also owns publishers of blockbuster games such as Call of Duty, The focus is on whether consumers are harmed.
In the end, three regulators became the most important gatekeepers of the acquisition. The deal was greenlit by the European Union in May after Microsoft agreed to bring Activision’s games to other streaming platforms. However, it faced greater opposition in the US and UK.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit in December against the Federal Trade Commission’s Administrative Court, accusing Microsoft of banning Call of Duty from Sony’s popular PlayStation game console. And in June, the FTC asked a federal judge to stay the deal pending administrative proceedings. The judge ruled against the FTC last week, and an appeals court on Friday denied the FTC’s request for an injunction from completing the transaction.
Britain’s antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, moved in April to block the deal, saying it could harm consumers who stream games online. Microsoft and Activision have appealed the findings of the investigation.
Shortly after a federal judge dismissed the FTC’s attempt to block the deal last week, Microsoft, Activision and the UK antitrust regulator will see if a deal can be negotiated to resolve regulatory concerns. He said he wanted to suspend the appeals process. Regulators told the appeals court on Monday that there was a “real possibility” that the talks would be successful.court accept The appeal is suspended for two months.
Microsoft also announced on Sunday that it had reached an agreement with Sony to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years, addressing the FTC’s biggest concern in court. Normally, the FTC dismisses administrative lawsuits when it loses in federal court, but it has not yet withdrawn its objection to Microsoft’s proposed acquisition.
Adam Sataliano Contributed to the report.