Microsoft is set to finalize its proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard next week, with an announcement expected on Friday, October 13th, according to a source familiar with Microsoft’s plans.
However, the closing date hinges on the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which had previously blocked the deal but recently granted preliminary approval after Microsoft restructured the agreement to transfer cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft.
The CMA has been gathering opinions on whether to grant consent for the merger, with a final decision expected next week. Assuming there are no last-minute surprises or changes, Microsoft should be able to proceed with the deal.
Microsoft and Activision had extended their deal deadline to October 18th, but closing the deal next week would bring an end to a 20-month process of regulatory approvals and challenges in Europe and the US, slightly ahead of schedule.
Earlier this year, the CMA blocked the deal in the UK due to concerns related to cloud computing. In August, Microsoft presented a revised agreement to the CMA after the initial deal had been rejected. Under this new arrangement, Microsoft is set to grant Ubisoft the cloud gaming rights for both current and future titles from Activision Blizzard.
The EU approved the acquisition with concessions from Microsoft. This followed legal battles in Europe and the US, where the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initially sued to block the deal. The FTC was unable to secure a preliminary injunction to halt the acquisition during a contentious legal battle in July.
The FTC is currently appealing the outcome of that hearing with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with a decision expected in early December. The FTC also plans to resume its administrative case against Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which will begin 21 days after the Ninth Circuit rules on the appeal. However, undoing the deal, assuming it closes on time, would be a significant challenge for the FTC.