Exclusive: Microsoft wants to agree to Activision with a license offer from the EU, sources say

BRUSSELS, March 2 (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) is expected to win EU antitrust clearance for its $69 billion acquisition of Activision (ATVI.O) with its bid for licensing deals with rivals, three co-workers said people familiar with the matter, which helps him clear a major hurdle.

Microsoft announced Activision’s biggest-ever offer in January last year to acquire leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T) in the booming video game market and venture into the Metaverse, which are online virtual worlds where people can live, work, play and socialize.

The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by April 25, is unlikely to require Microsoft to sell assets to get its approval, the people said.

In addition to licensing deals for competitors, Microsoft may also need to offer other remedies to allay concerns from parties other than Sony, one of the people said. Such remedies typically relate to the future conduct of the merged entity.

last update

Watch 2 more stories

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

Microsoft President Brad Smith said last month the US software giant was willing to offer licensing deals to competitors to address antitrust concerns, but that it would not sell Activision’s lucrative Call of Duty franchise.

Smith said it’s neither feasible nor realistic to think that any game or part of Activision could be cut and separated from the rest.

The EU competition authority declined to comment.

Microsoft said it is “committed to providing effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the European Commission’s concerns.”

READ :  Google admits it can't make cloud gaming work on its own

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

Last month, Microsoft announced that it had signed 10-year license deals with Nintendo (7974.T) and Nvidia (NVDA.O) that will bring Call of Duty to their gaming platforms, with the agreements greenlighting the Activision deal dependent .

The deal is facing regulatory headwinds in the UK, where the UK competition regulator has proposed that Microsoft divest Call of Duty to assuage its concerns, while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked a judge to block the deal.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Elaine Hardcastle, Jane Merriman and Marguerita Choy

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.