Activision

FTC reportedly timed its opposition to Microsoft’s Activision deal to manipulate the European Union

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What you need to know

  • Microsoft’s attempt to acquire Activision-Blizzard for $69 billion is ongoing, with regulators scrutinizing the deal worldwide.
  • The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently filed a lawsuit to block the merger, citing Microsoft making games like Starfield exclusive as a sign that the company could not be trusted.
  • A new report suggests that the FTC filed its lawsuit to block the Microsoft-Activision merger after learning that the European Union (EU) planned to discuss potential remedy proposals with Microsoft, dissuading it from reaching a settlement.
  • Regulators like the EU and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are expected to make their final decisions in April 2023.

As Microsoft continues its efforts to close its largest ever acquisition deal, the Activision-Blizzard merger faces careful and thorough inspection from regulators around the world. One organization, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), recently filed its lawsuit to block the $69 billion deal in December, citing Microsoft’s decision to make upcoming games like Starfield and Redfall exclusive to Xbox and PC as a reason that the firm is not trustworthy (other regulators claimed the FTC was inaccurate as Microsoft never committed to keeping ZeniMax games multiplatform).

However, a new report suggests that the FTC chose to make its case when it did in order to manipulate the European Union (EU), a fellow regulatory authority also scrutinizing the acquisition. According to Bloomberg, the FTC moved to block the merger on December 8 in a direct response to EU officials indicating that they were planning to discuss possible remedies with Microsoft. This information was shared over a call between the two agencies mere hours before the lawsuit was filed.

Sources familiar with the investigations said that the FTC’s suit was a clear message to the EU that the US regulator did not want settlements with Microsoft reached. This occurred despite the fact that the EU wouldn’t consider possible solutions until a later date.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The FTC was able to “get out in front of the Europeans in an effort to shape the narrative” by rapidly filing, said Barry Nigro. Previously, Nigro was the No. 2 antitrust official at the Justice Department as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General. Currently, he leads the Global Antitrust and Competition Department at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP.





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