EU sends formal warning to Microsoft over $69 bn Activision Blizzard deal


San Francisco, Feb 4

Microsoft has formally received an antitrust warning from the European Union over its $68.7 billion bid to acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard, the media reported.

According to a report in Politico citing sources, the objections were sent to the tech giant this week.

The report mentioned that in a "statement of objections,a EU officials "laid out the reasons why the deal could threaten fair competition on the video game market".

A Microsoft spokesperson said that they are committed to solutions and finding a path forward for this deal.

"We are listening carefully to the European Commission's concerns and are confident we can address them," said the company spokesperson.

Earlier this month, Microsoft removed an aggressive argument against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) it made in December last year, as the agency sued the tech giant for acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard.

According to Axios, Microsoft said it made a "mistake" when it claimed that the "very structure of FTC violates the United States Constitution".

A Microsoft spokesperson said that the "FTC has an important mission to protect competition and consumers, and we quickly updated our response to omit language suggesting otherwise based on the constitution.

In its lawsuit, the FTC has said that the deal, the largest ever in the video gaming industry, would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.

"Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals. Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets," Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, had said in a statement.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said they have been committed since "Day One to addressing competition concerns, including by offering earlier this week proposed concessions to the FTC."

In September, the UK market watchdog announced an in-depth probe into Microsoft's all-cash deal to acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard, if its concerns over antitrust practices are not met.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is set to release its provisional findings this month.


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