Microsoft Corp is on track to receive EU antitrust approval for its $69 billion acquisition of Activision, according to three insiders who are familiar with the matter. Its offer of licensing agreements to competitors is expected to help the company clear a significant hurdle in its quest.
Microsoft announced its bid for Activision in January of past year, which is its largest acquisition ever. The company is hoping to compete with leaders Tencent and Sony developing the take on the metaverse. The European Commission is expected to make a decision on the deal by April 25 and is not anticipated to demand divestiture of any assets from Microsoft to win approval.
Along with the licensing deals, Microsoft may need to offer other conduct remedies to address disquiets of other parties. However, the company is not expected to sell Activision's highly profitable "Call of Duty" franchise. Microsoft President Brad Smith said last month that the company had been ready to offer licensing deals to competitors to address antitrust concerns, but it would not sell off any part of Activision.
Activision shares increased by 1.8% in pre-market trading after Reuters published its story. The shares were up 2.6% in late trade. The EU competition enforcer declined to comment.
“We are committed to offering effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the European Commission's concerns”.
Microsoft's spokesperson stated that their commitment to granting long-term, 100% equal access to "Call of Duty" to Sony, Steam, Nvidia, and others saved the deal's advantages to gamers and developers while increasing competition in the market. Last month, Microsoft signed 10-year licensing deals with Nintendo and Nvidia, which would bring "Call of Duty" to their gaming platforms, conditional on the Activision deal receiving the green light.
The deal is facing regulatory challenges in Britain, where the UK competition agency has proposed that Microsoft divest "Call of Duty" to solve its problems. Meanwhile, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requested a magistrate to close the deal/agreement.
To sum up, the intentions of Microsoft to be a leader among its competitors in videogaming market with licensing agreement can really help in struggle for antitrust approval.