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Britain says may clear restructured Microsoft-Activision deal

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Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard’s games characters in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) restructured acquisition of Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) “opens the door” to the deal being cleared, Britain’s antitrust regulator said on Friday.

Microsoft announced the biggest gaming deal in history in early 2022, but the $69 billion acquisition was blocked in April by Britain’s competition regulator, which was concerned the U.S. computing giant would gain too much control of the nascent cloud gaming market.

In August the “Call of Duty” maker agreed to sell its streaming rights to Ubisoft Entertainment (UBIP.PA).

The Ubisoft divestment “substantially addresses previous concerns,” the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in a statement.

“While the CMA has identified limited residual concerns with the new deal, Microsoft has put forward remedies which the CMA has provisionally concluded should address these issues,” the regulator said.

Microsoft said it was “encouraged by this positive development in the CMA’s review process”.

“We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work toward earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline,” Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith said.

The CMA said there were “residual concerns” that certain provisions in the Ubisoft deal could be circumvented, terminated or not enforced.

Microsoft has offered remedies to ensure that the terms of the sale are enforceable by the regulator.

The CMA is now consulting on the remedies before making a final decision.

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