EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft is poised to win EU approval for Activision with its licensing offer, sources said

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Microsoft Corporation (MSFT.O) is expected to secure European Union antitrust approval for its $69 billion acquisition of Activision (ATVI.O) by offering licensing deals to competitors, three people familiar with the matter said. , which helps her overcome a major hurdle.

Microsoft announced Activision’s bid in January last year, its biggest bid ever, to take on leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T), in the booming video game market and adventure in the metaverse, online virtual worlds where people They can work, play and socialize.

The European Commission, which is due to decide on the deal by April 25, is not expected to require Microsoft to sell the assets to win its approval, the people said.

One person said that in addition to licensing deals for competitors, Microsoft may also have to offer other behavioral remedies to assuage concerns of parties other than Sony. These solutions usually indicate the future behavior of the merging company.

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Activision shares, which jumped 1.8% in premarket trading after the Reuters story was published, were up 2.6% in late trade.

Microsoft chief Brad Smith said last month that the US software group was willing to offer competing licensing deals to address antitrust concerns but would not sell the lucrative “Call of Duty” franchise to Activision.

Smith said it wasn’t possible or realistic to think about the possibility of carving out one game or one segment of Activision and separating it from the rest.

The EU competition official declined to comment.

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Microsoft said it was “committed to providing effective and easy-to-implement solutions that address the concerns of the European Commission”.

“Our commitment to giving 100% equal access to Call of Duty to Sony, Steam, NVIDIA and others preserves the benefits of the deal for gamers and developers and increases competition in the marketplace,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

Last month, Microsoft said it had signed 10-year licensing deals with Nintendo (7974.T) and Nvidia (NVDA.O) that will bring Call of Duty to their gaming platforms, with agreements conditional on the deal being greenlighted by Activision.

The deal faces regulatory headwinds in Britain, with Britain’s competition agency suggesting that Microsoft liquidate Call of Duty to address its concerns while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asked a judge to block the deal.

Fu Yun Che’s report. Editing by Hugh Lawson, Eileen Hardcastle, Jane Merriman and Margarita Choi

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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