The UK’s unexpected decision to block Microsoft’s bonkers $69 billion buyout of Activision Blizzard provided us with a temporary reprieve from the corporate skulduggery that’s dominated the industry this past year, but the bees nest will be poked again next week when the European Commission is expected to submit its conclusion.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but Reuters reports the continent will give the deal the greenlight, potentially leaving Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the United States’ Federal Trade Commission standing on their own. While the latter can be overcome in court, the former will present a significant thorn in the Redmond firm’s side – and it’s already tried piling on the political pressure as a result.
It should be noted, however, that days before the CMA came to its conclusion, all the noise coming out of respected financial news outlets suggested the deal was about to pass, so regardless of what’s being reported about the European Commission, this isn’t a formality yet. A block from the, er, bloc would effectively kill this deal stone dead.
Of course, should the deal pass on the continent then it means Microsoft may be more likely to follow through with its plans to appeal the CMA’s decision, which could potentially drag the drama out into 2024 and beyond. There’s a lot of money on the line here – Activision Blizzard will pocket a cool $3 billion from Microsoft if the deal breaks down – so we doubt the trillion dollar tech giant is going to go down quietly. And, if the European Commission does indeed pass the deal, Britain’s resolve is really going to be tested.