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Microsoft in fresh bid to get Activision Blizzard takeover past UK regulator

The UK’s competition regulator has launched a fresh investigation into Microsoft’s proposed £55bn takeover of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard after the tech firm offered a new remedy in a bid to get the deal over the line.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed on Tuesday that it stood by its final decision to block the original deal despite intense pressure from the pair for a change of heart.

That ruling, to protect innovation and choice in cloud gaming, forced Microsoft to come up with a new offer to satisfy the watchdog after it cleared EU scrutiny.

US regulators have paused their own bid to block the planned tie-up despite similar concerns.

The new proposal to the CMA would see Activision’s cloud streaming rights outside of the EU being sold to Ubisoft Entertainment.

The planned divestment would cover all current and future Activision PC and console games released during the next 15 years.

The CMA said that the terms would allow Ubisoft to commercialise these rights to other cloud gaming services providers, including Microsoft and its own Xbox Cloud Gaming offer.

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The proposal, it said, had prompted a new so-called Phase 1 investigation which the CMA would aim to complete by 18 October.

“Microsoft has stated that the restructured deal is intended to address the concerns set out in the CMA’s Final Report in April,” the regulator said in its statement.

“In particular, the transaction is intended to provide an independent third-party content supplier, Ubisoft, with the ability to supply Activision’s gaming content to all cloud gaming service providers (including to Microsoft itself).

“Ubisoft will be able to license out Activision’s content under different business models, including subscription services.

“The deal also proposes that Ubisoft would have the ability to require Microsoft to provide versions of games on operating systems other than Windows.”

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CMA boss explains block on Microsoft-Activision deal

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Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s chief executive, said of the fresh inquiry: “This is not a green light.

“We will carefully and objectively assess the details of the restructured deal and its impact on competition, including in light of third-party comments.

“Our goal has not changed – any future decision on this new deal will ensure that the growing cloud gaming market continues to benefit from open and effective competition driving innovation and choice.”

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