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Microsoft eyes closing its giant Activision Blizzard deal next week

Microsoft eyes closing its giant Activision Blizzard deal next week


Microsoft is getting ready to close its Activision Blizzard deal, with a decision from a UK regulator expected imminently.

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An illustration of the Xbox logo.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft is planning to finalize its $68.7 billion proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard next week. A source familiar with Microsoft’s plans tells The Verge that the company is eyeing up Friday October 13th as the closing date where it announces to the world that the 20-month process to buy Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard is over.

That date will still depend on the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority though, a regulator that blocked Microsoft’s deal earlier this year. Microsoft recently restructured the deal to transfer cloud gaming rights for current and new Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft, and the Xbox maker secured preliminary approval from the CMA late last month as a result.

The CMA has a deadline that expires today on gathering opinions over whether it should grant consent to Microsoft to proceed with the merger. A final decision from the CMA is expected next week, and barring any surprise last-minute changes should allow Microsoft to close its deal.

A final CMA decision is imminent

Microsoft and Activision extended their deal deadline to October 18th recently, but if Microsoft is able to close its deal next week then it will bring to a close a 20-month process of regulatory approvals and battles across Europe and the US a little earlier than expected.

Earlier this year, the CMA blocked the deal in the UK over cloud concerns, just weeks before the EU approved the deal with important cloud concessions from Microsoft. The regulatory battles in Europe came months after the FTC initially sued to block the Activision Blizzard acquisition in the US last year. The FTC then failed to secure a preliminary injunction to block Microsoft from finalizing its Activision Blizzard acquisition, part of a grueling five days of evidence and testimony in July during FTC v. Microsoft.

The FTC is still appealing the outcome of that hearing with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a decision is due in early December. The FTC is also planning to resume its own administrative case against Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition. The administrative case will commence 21 days after the Ninth Circuit rules on the FTC’s appeal, with the hearing held virtually. The FTC could attempt to undo Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal, assuming it closes on time, but it would face an unprecedented uphill battle.