There's been a slight update in Microsoft's attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard, with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority now restricting the tech and video game giants from "acquiring an interest" in each other.
As explained by the BBC, a recent interim order reveals the two parties would need "prior written consent" from the CMA before attempting anything along these lines. This applies to their businesses and subsidiaries.
The reasoning behind this relates to what the CMA describes as the "Reference", which is basically the name for the investigation that the CMA has been conducting on the attempted acquisition since September 2022. The order began on May 5th, 2023, and will cease to have effect "once the Reference is finally determined".
"The CMA wishes to ensure that no action is taken pending final determination of the Reference which might prejudice the Reference or impede the taking of any action by the CMA under Part 3 of the Act which might be justified by the CMA’s decisions on the Reference."
And here's what the CMA describes as the "restrictions on acquiring an interest":
"Except with the prior written consent of the CMA, Microsoft and all members of the Group of Interconnected Bodies Corporate to which it may belong must not:
(A) Acquire an Interest in Activision or any of its Subsidiaries; (B) Acquire an Interest in an Enterprise holding an Interest in Activision or carrying on the business of Activision from time to time; or (C) Hold an option to acquire an Interest referred to in subparagraphs (A) and (B) above."
"Except with the prior written consent of the CMA, Activision and all members of the Group of Interconnected Bodies Corporate to which it may belong must not:
(A) Acquire an Interest in Microsoft or any of its Subsidiaries; (B) Acquire an Interest in an Enterprise holding an Interest in Microsoft or carrying on the business of Microsoft from time to time; or (C) Hold an option to acquire an Interest referred to in subparagraphs (A) and (B) above."
The CMA originally blocked the deal a fortnight ago - voicing concerns about the future of cloud gaming. Since then, Activision Blizzard has gone to the extent of hiring a lawyer who has previously represented UK prime ministers, football clubs and even the royal family.
Microsoft continues to remain "committed" to the deal, as mentioned in a statement to the BBC:
"We remain firmly committed to this deal and look forward to presenting our case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal."
Although the CMA is standing its ground, there has been a report that the EU is "expected" to approve Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal next week, potentially even as early as Monday. We'll see!