UK regulator extends deadline for Microsoft Activision-Blizzard investigation, citing ‘special reasons’

Britain’s financial watchdog (CMA) has extended the deadline for its in-depth investigation into a planned Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard merger.

Back in September last year, the CMA publicly expressed concerns about Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, stating that the merger could be a game-changing merger. As such, the UK regulator has announced that there will be a more thorough investigation into the deal. “If our current concerns are not addressed, we plan to explore this deal in an in-depth Phase II investigation to reach a decision that works in the best interests of UK gaming players and businesses.” CMA Books.

After this decision, Microsoft quickly responded to the regulator’s alleged concerns, stating that while Sony may not be too fond of increased competition, it can still adapt and compete.

The second phase of the CMA’s investigation is currently underway, but as spotted by ResetEra user “Idas,” the regulator has now published two new documents announcing an extension of the inquiry period due to “special reasons.” The first document is the “Notice of Extended Inquiry Period,” in which the CMA explains why it feels it needs more time to submit the final report. “The investigation team decided that the reference period should be extended by eight weeks under Section 39(3) of the Act because it considered that there were special reasons (explained below) for not preparing and publishing the final report within the reference period,” the notice reads.

While the new period will expire on April 26, the Capital Markets Authority wrote that it aims to complete the investigation as soon as possible. The Phase 2 report is scheduled to be released for the first time on March 1, 2023. Below you will find a description of what the CMA calls the “special reasons”:

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In making this decision, the investigation team took this into account due to the scope and complexity of the investigation and the need to consider a large volume of evidence as well as principal and third party reports, and the need to allow sufficient time to take full and proper consideration of comments to be received in response to the interim findings of the investigation group in a timely manner and to reach a fully reasoned final decision within the timeframe legal. The investigation team finds that there are special reasons why the report was not prepared and published during the original reference period.

The second new document published includes a revised administrative timeline for the Microsoft Activision-Blizzard investigation. According to this document, the CMA was mainly busy listening to the main parties, as well as verifying this information. Later this month, and in early February, the group aims to notify interim findings and possible treatments before continuing with hearings (if needed) in late February/early March.

Interesting anecdotes for sure. We’ll update you as soon as more information emerges on this hotly discussed deal.

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