Microsoft will defend its proposed $69 billion Activision merger to the European Union in a closed hearing set on February 21. (via Reuters)
Competition watchdogs are one of the biggest hurdles Microsoft has to face to win its megadeal proposal to acquire Activision. Unfortunately, regulators around the globe continue to express their concerns about the possible effects of the merger on the entire gaming industry and the competition in this business in general. Recently, the European Commission sent Microsoft a statement of objections, indicating its concerns about the possible anti-competitive results of the deal. To address this, The Redmond company asked for an oral hearing, where it will defend the acquisition and is expected to offer remedies afterward.
One of the things the company might highlight is the 10-year licensing deal it handed to Nintendo and the same offer it has been offering to Sony, which continues to ignore it despite calling the former three-year COD licensing of Microsoft as “inadequate.” Microsoft might also stress that it offered Sony the right to put Call of Duty on its PlayStation Plus gaming subscription service.
It remains unknown what the deal’s status is in the eye of the European Commission, but Microsoft might need to exert a massive amount of effort to convince its national antitrust officials. Other rival companies also continue to voice their protest against the deal. Sony, one of the merger’s biggest opponents, also continues to make moves to stop the acquisition.
In January, a report revealed that Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan met with EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager on Wednesday to discuss the merger. No details of the meeting were shared, but it is certain that it didn’t favor Microsoft. Days after that, Frank X. Shaw, lead communications for Microsoft, addressed the hearsays about Sony telling Brussels officials that “Microsoft is unwilling to offer them parity for Call of Duty if we acquire Activision.”