Big deal blocked
U.K. thwarts Microsoft's $69 billion bid for Activision Blizzard
Antitrust regulators in the United Kingdom blocked Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of video game developer Activision Blizzard, impeding one of the tech industry's most significant deals "over concerns it will stifle competition in cloud gaming," CNN writes.
The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority said it was concerned the proposed deal would lead to "reduced innovation and less choice for U.K. gamers over the years to come." The regulator added that if Microsoft acquired Activision, it would make the tech giant "even stronger" in cloud gaming, an emerging market in which the company already has a 60-70 percent share of the global market.
"Allowing Microsoft to take such a strong position in the cloud gaming market just as it begins to grow rapidly would risk undermining the innovation that is crucial to the development of these opportunities," the CMA continued in a statement.
The U.K. is not the first country to challenge the deal, which "has been met with growing opposition by antitrust regulators worldwide," CNN adds. The Federal Trade Commission in the United States sued to block the merger over similar concerns about hampering innovation. A hearing in the case is scheduled for August. The European Union is also evaluating the acquisition.
The U.K. regulator's "surprising ruling" was a "clear victory for proponents of regulating tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Meta, Facebook's parent company," says The New York Times. Efforts to reign in the tech industry, "fueled by fears that the companies wield too much power over online commerce and communications, have been stymied in the United States by recent court losses and legislative failures," the Times adds.
Both Microsoft and Activision say they intend to appeal the U.K.'s decision. "Alongside Microsoft, we can and will contest this decision, and we've already begun the work to appeal to the U.K. Competition Appeals Tribunal," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.