UK extends deadline for Microsoft and Activision’s $69 billion merger

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is extending the deadline to review the $69 billion Microsoft-Activion merger – the latest twist in a complex regulatory saga. The deadline was moved from July 18 to August 29.

“The investigative group has decided to extend it [the period] by six weeks … because he believes there are special reasons for this,” the regulator announced on Friday.

In April, the CMA initially blocked the acquisition, concluding that the purchase would give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the country’s burgeoning cloud gaming market. In May, the US tech giant decided to appeal the decision.

The EU’s eventual endorsement of the deal did not appear to shake British authority. But this week, the CMA softened its stance after a U.S. court ruled against the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) attempt to block the merger. (For context, Microsoft needs approval from the entire UK, US, and EU trio to complete the purchase.)

“Microsoft and Activision have indicated that they are considering how the transaction might be modified, and the CMA stands ready to work with them on that basis,” Billy Proudlock, media officer for the CMA, told The Verge. He added that they could potentially decide to “restructure a deal,” which in turn could lead to a “new merger investigation.”

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For its part, Microsoft has agreed to a stay of the appeal process. Activision and Microsoft are also reportedly considering giving up some control of their cloud gaming business, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously to Bloomberg.

This could include selling cloud gaming rights to UK companies in the telecoms, gaming and internet-based computing sectors, or even to private equity firms.

But while things seem to be turning for Microsoft, the battle for the biggest deal in the video game industry to date is far from over. It is still uncertain whether negotiations with the CMA will bear fruit, and the FTC is appealing the court’s decision in favor of the merger.

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