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Activision Blizzard executive vice-president for corporate affairs Lulu Cheng Meservey has tweeted that the company “won’t hesitate to fight to defend” Microsoft’s $68.7 billion (£57 billion) buyout of the publisher. The comment came after reports began circulating that the US Federal Trade Commission could bring a lawsuit against Microsoft over the deal. Anonymous sources claiming to be close to the matter also suggested that a lawsuit from the FTC might begin as early as December.
“Seeing a lot of speculation about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” Cheng Meservey said. “Any suggestion that the transaction could have anticompetitive effects is absurd. This merger will benefit gamers and the US gaming industry — especially as we face stiffer competition from abroad.” That could be a reference to large European and Chinese companies such as Embracer Group and Tencent investing in games studios, and related IP. Embracer bought the rights to The Lord Of The Rings earlier this year for an upfront cost of SEK 6 billion (£476 million), while Tencent recently invested €300 million (£258 million) in the company of Ubisoft’s founding family, the Guillemots.
“We’re committed to continuing to work cooperatively with regulators around the globe to allow the transaction to proceed,” Cheng Meservey continued, “but won’t hesitate to fight to defend the transaction if that’s needed.” Although the executive VP didn’t elaborate on what that could mean, it’s evident that senior figures at Activision Blizzard are determined to see the deal through even if that means a direct legal challenge from the US government’s competition watchdog.
The Microsoft buyout of Activision Blizzard is still being investigated by both the UK’s Competition And Markets Authority and the European Commission, ahead of any approval. Both agencies have shown concern that the proposed deal could affect competition within the industry, and have knock-on effects on consumers. Some of this stems from speculation over the future of current multiplatform series such as Call Of Duty, which Microsoft has contested.
Activision Blizzard are currently the subject of a number of legal actions, labour disputes and allegations of workplace harassment. Rock Paper Shotgun will continue to write about these issues, as well as covering Activision Blizzard games as part of our commitment to cover subjects of interest to our readers. The latest news can always be found under our Activision Blizzard tag.