We finally heard from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority on Microsoft's attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard yesterday, and it wasn't good news, with the CMA provisionally finding that the takeover "could result in higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation for UK gamers".
However, shortly after the CMA published its provisional findings, analysts Nick McKay and Michael Pachter from Wedbush Securities penned a note to investors stating that they believe the deal will close by no later than mid-May.
Here's what they had to say, courtesy of GamesIndustry.biz:
"We read today's release as a signal that the UK knows it has a losing legal argument. In our view, the FTC figured this out late last year, and rushed to file suit to block the merger in the hopes of being first to extract concessions from Microsoft. We believe that the CMA reached the same conclusion during its review, and accelerated its formal objection to the deal and proposed remedies in order to step in front of the FTC and gain bragging rights.
The FTC has as yet to offer proposed remedies, and the CMA, by listing onerous structural remedies, has positioned itself to be the 'dragon slayer' in this action."
The "structural remedies" that the two analysts refer to here were revealed by the CMA yesterday, suggesting that Microsoft could look to take Call of Duty out of the deal, or even remove the Activision part and just leave Blizzard!
Instead, it's believed that Microsoft will agree to a set of behavioural remedies, which might potentially include the 10-year Call of Duty offer to Sony, Nintendo and Steam that wasn't taken into account in yesterday's CMA report.
As for the US FTC (Federal Trade Commission), we obviously know that a lawsuit has been filed against the takeover, but we haven't had any major developments on that in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the European Commission is also conducting a deep investigation into the acquisition, so there are still plenty of hurdles ahead for Microsoft.
Nevertheless, these analysts believe the deal could be closed very shortly indeed...
"We expect Microsoft's acquisition of Activision to close no later than mid-May."