Microsoft to Secure EU Approval for $69 Billion Activision Acquisition: Report

Microsoft is expected to get the green light for its $68.7 billion USD acquisition of video game publishing giant Activision Blizzard from the European Union (EU) thanks to licensing deals the former has offered to rivals — reports Reuters, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The European Commission is slated to issue a ruling on the proposed takeover in April. According to the sources, the Commission won’t ask Microsoft to sell any assets to win approval for the deal.

Microsoft originally announced its bid to acquire the Call of Duty maker, its biggest takeover ever, in January 2022. Since then, the transaction has faced antitrust scrutiny the world over, along with opposition from competitors such as PlayStation maker Sony.

As part of the EU approval, Microsoft may be required to offer concessions to companies other than Sony. Such concessions typically take the form of behavioural remedies relating to the future conduct of the merged company.

Microsoft President Brad Smith recently said that the tech giant was ready to offer competitors licensing deals to alleviate antitrust concerns regarding the merger, but said the company would not sell Activision’s flagship Call of Duty franchise.

Last month, Microsoft finalized 10-year licensing deals with Nintendo and Nvidia to bring Call of Duty (and more) games to their platforms, provided the Activision deal goes through.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is “committed to offering effective  and  easily  enforceable solutions  that address the European Commission’s concerns.”

“Our commitment to grant long term 100% equal access to  Call of Duty to Sony, Steam,  NVIDIA and others  preserves the deal’s benefits to gamers and developers and increases competition in the market.”

Activision last year committed to releasing at least the next three titles in the Call of Duty series on PlayStation.

Even with potential approval from the EU, however, the gargantuan Microsoft-Activision deal still faces regulatory resistance in the U.K., which wants the transaction to exclude the Call of Duty franchise entirely, and the U.S., where the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked a judge to block the merger outright.