Microsoft has to convince antitrust regulators that the deal won’t hurt competition.
Microsoft President Brad Smith is travelling to Brussels this week to make a very important pitch to European regulators, according to Reuters. His challenge is to convince the antitrust watchdogs from multiple EU countries that Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard will be good for competition.
Microsoft announced in January 2022 that it wants to acquire Activision, the famous creator of the “Call of Duty” game series, for $69 billion. The deal would allow Microsoft to challenge game market leaders such as Tencent and SONY.
Microsoft Gaming Chief Executive Officer Phil Spencer will accompany Smith to Brussels, along with an entourage of 16 other senior execs, according to Reuters. Activision, for its part, will be represented by its CEO Robert Kotick.
The purpose of the hearing is to allow Xbox maker Microsoft to “gauge the mood among senior EU and national competition officials and Commission lawyers”. This will help Microsoft prepare the requisite remedies it will implement to address antitrust concerns within the bloc.
A broad spectrum of stakeholders
The hearing will include representatives of Sony, who opposes the deal, as well as Google and Nvidia. Video game distributor Valve and video game publisher Electronic Arts will also attend. One Microsoft ally in attendance will be The European Games Developer Federation (EGDF), which has come out publicly in favor of the deal, saying that it will allow Microsoft to compete with Apple.
The European Commission, however, is on the other side of the issue, and has made it known that it objects to the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. Market regulation and antitrust authorities from Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden will also be taking part in the event.
Microsoft’s purchase of Activision is not just facing problems in the EU, however. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US and the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK have also raised objections to the deal.