UK proposes antitrust review after Microsoft-Activision case

UK proposes antitrust review after Microsoft-Activision case

The UK antitrust watchdog said on Monday it plans to tweak its merger review system, including promoting better interaction with parties and allowing solutions to be proposed sooner, following criticism of the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) became one of the main global regulators when the UK left the EU in 2020, giving it greater influence over mega mergers, such as the $69 billion acquisition of “Call of Duty” video game maker Activision from Microsoft. dollar.

The agency blocked the deal, angering both US companies, but then tore up its rulebook to reopen the case and approve it after Microsoft came back with changes.

Microsoft and Activision were surprised by the blockade imposed by the Capital Markets Authority, saying that the regulatory body’s objections were not completely clear.

Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA, said she wanted to “put an end once and for all” speculation about alleged political influence on the final result.

“There was no attempt by any politician, political advisor or government official to influence our decision-making process,” she said on Monday.

It said in a statement that the CMA is an organization that “listens and learns”, both in the context of its investigations and in developing its processes to ensure merger control works as effectively as possible.

Martin Coleman, who chaired the Microsoft committee, noted that Microsoft President Brad Smith recently said that his company had to accept some level of responsibility for the process, and that it should have figured out how to lift the ban sooner.

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Coleman also said that under the new proposals, parties involved in the merger would have the opportunity to file protests after seeing the full version of the case against them in an interim report.

He added that the hearing “will allow the parties more time to present their proposals and adopt a more rhetorical approach.”

“Throughout the process, the parties involved in the merger will be open to discussing solutions with the group at an early stage if they wish.”

The UK views mergers and acquisitions in two phases: an initial phase to determine whether the deal could reduce competition, and a longer second phase to examine possible solutions, including a complete blockade or divestment.

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