Microsoft faces EU antitrust warning over Activision deal – sources

BRUSSELS, January 16 (Reuters) – Microsoft (MSFT.O) Likely to receive EU antitrust warning over its $69 billion bid for ‘Call of Duty’ company Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O)That could pose another challenge to closing the deal, people familiar with the matter said.

The people said the European Commission is preparing a charge sheet known as a Statement of Objection outlining its concerns about the deal that will be sent to Microsoft in the coming weeks.

The EU antitrust watchdog, which has set an April 11 deadline for its decision on the deal, declined to comment.

Microsoft said, “We continue to work with the European Commission to address any market concerns. Our goal is to bring more games to more people, and this deal will further that goal.”

The US software giant and maker of Xbox announced the acquisition in January last year to help it better compete with leading Tencent. (0700.HK) and sony (6758.T).

However, concerns have been voiced by regulators in the US and UK, with the US Federal Trade Commission going to court to block the deal.

Other sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in November that Microsoft was expected to provide solutions to EU regulators in an effort to sidestep an indictment and shorten regulatory action.

However, the EU competition enforcement body is not expected to be open to remedies without first sending the indictment, although there have been informal discussions underway over concessions, the people said.

Last month, Microsoft reached a 10-year deal with Nintendo (7974.T) to make Call of Duty available on Nintendo hardware, saying it is open to a similar agreement with Sony, which is crucial to the acquisition.

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The deal was given the green light without conditions in Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Serbia.

Reporting by Fu Yunqi Editing by Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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