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Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Takeover Under Scrutiny From UK Competition Watchdog

Microsoft's acquisition of the gaming giant is still very much pending.

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Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
Microsoft logo on a tablet screen

Microsoft still thinks the Activision deal will close next year as planned.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At the end of April, Microsoft came one step closer to owning gaming giant Activision Blizzard when its bid to buy the company won the approval of Activision's shareholders. But that doesn't mean the deal is going through yet -- in fact, Microsoft's just stumbled upon another hurdle.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority announced on Wednesday that it was opening an inquiry into the acquisition. The British watchdog said it will decide whether to refer the merger for a full investigation by the beginning of September.

Microsoft and Activision leaders first announced the all-cash deal back in January. The acquisition, if it goes ahead, will give the Xbox console maker control of one of the biggest video game companies in the world. Activision makes popular series like the war simulation series Call of Duty and the fantasy behemoth World of Warcraft.

Microsoft will fully cooperate with the CMA's inquiry and believes it's appropriate for regulators to scrutinize the deal, said Lisa Tanzi, the company's general counsel, in a statement.

"We have been clear about how we plan to run our gaming business and why we believe the deal will benefit gamers, developers, and the industry," Tanzi added. "We're committed to answering questions from regulators and ultimately believe a thorough review will help the deal close with broad confidence, and that it will be positive for competition." 

Microsoft said it remains confident the deal will still close in 2023 as initially anticipated.