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Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard Likely to Lessen Competition, Says Canadian Justice Department

Canada’s Department of Justice has concluded that Microsoft’s deal to buy Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard “is likely to” lead to less competition in some aspects of gaming, according to a court filing on Thursday.

In a letter dated Wednesday to Microsoft’s US lawyers, the department said it had communicated to Microsoft’s and Activision’s lawyers in Canada that the deal would likely lead to less competition in “gaming consoles and multigame subscription services (as well as cloud gaming).”

On Thursday, the letter was put on the docket of a US federal court proceeding in which the US Federal Trade Commission is asking a judge to temporarily stop the proposed transaction so that an FTC judge will have time to assess it. Closing arguments in the proceeding are set for later on Thursday.

Microsoft has pressed for a decision in the court fight before the July 18 termination date for the deal. A ruling could come as early as next week.

In a statement, Microsoft said it was working with antitrust enforcers to address concerns.

“We received notice from the Canada Competition Bureau that it would continue to monitor our acquisition of Activision Blizzard after the formal waiting period preventing the deal to close expired,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Microsoft’s bid to acquire the Call of Duty videogame maker also faces opposition from British competition authorities. Microsoft’s appeal to Britain’s Competition Appeal Tribunal is scheduled for July 28.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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