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Activision Sells Streaming Rights to Ubisoft to Push Through Microsoft Takeover

U.S. gaming giant concedes European streaming rights to French rival in bid to overcome antitrust concerns raised by UK regulator.

Credits: REUTERS

Activision Blizzard, maker of the popular "Call of Duty" video game franchise, has agreed to sell its non-European streaming rights to French gaming company Ubisoft Entertainment in order to get its $69 billion takeover by Microsoft approved by British regulators. This represents the largest concession to date by Microsoft as it seeks clearance for the mega deal.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the sole regulator blocking the acquisition, posing a test of its powers post-Brexit. Microsoft said on Tuesday it felt its new offer constituted a "substantially different transaction" and anticipated the CMA review process being completed by 18 October.

Under the revised terms, Microsoft cannot exclusively release Activision Blizzard games on its Xbox Cloud Gaming service or control licensing conditions for rivals. Ubisoft will also gain a non-exclusive licence for Activision's European rights.

Shares in Ubisoft listed in Paris jumped 6.5% on Tuesday morning following the news, making them the top performer on the pan-European STOXX 600 index.

The CMA previously reopened its investigation into the deal in July after Microsoft claimed new agreements with Sony and the EU represented material changes. However, it said on Tuesday it did not accept this reasoning, forcing Microsoft back to the negotiating table.

The new agreement focuses on streaming rights outside the European Economic Area, reflecting the fact Brussels already greenlit the acquisition. Ubisoft will additionally be able to stream the rights inside the EU.

  • Activision selling non-EU streaming rights to Ubisoft to get Microsoft deal approved by UK regulator

  • Comes after CMA reopened probe into $69 billion acquisition in July

  • Microsoft cannot exclusively control Activision titles on its Xbox Cloud platform


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