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FTC trying to block EU approval of Microsoft’s Activision-Blizzard deal – sources

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On the morning of January 26th, Beijing time, according to reports, several people familiar with the matter said today that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard in December last year, partly to get ahead of the European Commission.dissuade them from accepting Microsoft’s compromise to approve the deal.

One of the sources said,In response to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for US$69 billion (currently about 467.82 billion yuan), officials from the United States and the European Union held a telephone discussion in December about the status of their respective investigations. Hours after the call, the FTC filed a complaint over the deal on Dec. 8.

EU officials said during the call that they planned to start talks with Microsoft on a potential remedy, the person said. But the EU decision prompted the FTC to file a lawsuit against Microsoft on the same day as the call, sending a strong signal to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and her staff (Do not approve the transaction lightly). Although technically, the FTC will not consider remedial proposals from companies under investigation until later in the investigation process.

EU and UK officials are not expected to make a decision on whether to approve the deal until April. And U.S. officials typically wait until closer to a deadline to try to work out a global solution. As a result, the FTC is not expected to make a decision until spring, the people said.

Barry Nigro, former senior official of the U.S. Department of Justice and head of the antitrust practice of law firm Fry Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP, said that by acting quickly, the FTC will be able to go ahead of the Europeans and try to Shape the story (set the tone for the deal).

Microsoft’s Activision-Blizzard deal needs approval from 16 jurisdictions, with the FTC, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the European Commission among the biggest hurdles. The three international institutions have been in close contact since the deal was announced in January 2022.

The European Commission is conducting an in-depth investigation into the transaction and plans to make a decision by April 11. The European Commission is expected to issue a so-called “statement of objections” in the near future, outlining the reasons why the deal could be blocked if there are no remedies. Of course, “statements of dissent” are commonplace in large deals and do not necessarily indicate that a deal is about to be rejected.

British regulators are also reviewing the deal,It plans to issue a preliminary decision later this month or early February, with a final decision due on April 26..

And Microsoft plans to propose a global remedy to the European Union to ensure that Sony’s PlayStation can continue to use the popular “Call of Duty” (Call of Duty) game for the next 10 years. But so far, Sony has not accepted this assurance from Microsoft.

Additionally, Microsoft has reached a deal that will provide the game to Nintendo and allow it to be sold by Valve’s PC gaming platform, STeam. If EU officials accept these globally applicable remedies, it could weaken U.S. or U.K. investigations into the deal.

The EU has previously run counter to regulators in the US and UK before. In February, the European Commission accepted a settlement agreement that approved the merger of two Finnish shipping equipment giants. But a month later, both the UK and the US said they would block the deal, leading the two companies to eventually abandon the merger.

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