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CMA extends deadline for Microsoft/Activision Blizzard investigation

Inquiry group now has until April 26, 2023 to complete report, but is aiming to do so ahead of this date

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The Competition and Markets Authority has updated its timetable for its ongoing, in-depth investigation into Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The UK regulator was due to publish its findings from the phase two investigation on March 1, 2023. However, a new statement reveals this has been extended to April 26, 2023.

The group producing the report "aims to complete the inquiry as soon as possible and in advance of this date."

The CMA said the extension has been granted because of the scope and complexity of the investigation, as well as the need to factor in the "large volume of evidence, as well as main party and third party submissions."

Last month, the CMA reported it had received 2,600 public responses weighing in on the merger, although 500 were dismissed as abusive or irrelevant. Of those counted, 75% were in favour of the deal going through.

According to the updated timetable, the inquiry group has spent much of December holding hearings with the main parties involved, and requesting submissions and responses from other parties. This will continue throughout early January.

By the middle of February, the CMA will notify those involved of provisional findings and possible remedies, if they are required, with any further hearings to be held by the middle of March.

The final deadline for any party to submit evidence or comments will be March 2023, with the final report published by April 26.

The CMA is one of three main regulators that Microsoft needs to win over in order for its proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard to go ahead.

The US' Federal Trade Commission issued a legal complaint last month in an attempt to block the deal, with a trial set for August 2023.

During a pre-trial hearing this week, the FTC said there have been no "substantive" talks regarding possible settlements with Microsoft.

Meanwhile, the European Commission is currently surveying games companies about concerns over the proposed acquisition as part of its own in-depth investigation.

Some regulators around the world have already approved the deal, including Chile, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

You can follow the regulatory challenges Microsoft and Activision Blizzard face in our extensive primer.

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