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Reject the takeover? Some clarifications from the European Commission –

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In case you missed it, we recommend that you watch the last episode of the program closed circuitbecause – in addition to the usual fine editions of the dynamic editorial trilogy – it contains at first a very interesting intervention by Ariana Podesta, spokeswoman for the European Commission Specialist in the antitrust sector, who explained several aspects of the situation regardingMicrosoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard The latest developments that have emerged in recent days. The fact that the European Commission decided to move to the second stage of its investigation into the Microsoft process was in some cases considered a kind of “rejection” of the acquisition, but this is not the case at all, since it is a procedure that is activated as a direct response to certain situations that arise. Not for nothing, this thing was also budgeted for, as well as the US Federal Trade Commission investigation and the UK’s CMA investigation.

By November 8, the European Commission had to decide by giving the green light to the acquisition or to move to a second stage of the investigation: after discovering some elements of risk and not receiving further clarification or commitments from Microsoft, the body decided to move forward with the second stage of the investigation that will continue Until March 23, 2023 (excluding additional extensions should more doubtful elements become clear or other obligations arise that will be evaluated).

What emerges from what Podestà has mentioned on the one hand makes us understand how this extension of the investigation is somewhat in line with the repetition of this type of operation, but on the other hand it shows how the process is seen as problematic and also highlights some additional doubts about its actual feasibility. So it is true that it is not a refusal at all, as it may seem at first glance, but Microsoft still has to take it seriously, as it seems on the other hand that it is also doing it due to the team of lawyers it organizes to defend private reasons.

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The spokesperson for the European Commission explained that, in some cases, the merger of some companies has been blocked, and these companies, despite their presence abroad, have had to follow their steps so that they do not have to face problems related to the inability to access the European market. Anyway, in the “vast majority” of cases, we don’t get to Stage 2, but this does not mean that the latter is not a normal process, because in any case it occurs regularly every year (about ten cases a year, as mentioned). It is interesting to note, as reported by Podestà, that at the end of stage 2 in most cases the treatment is approved, in a “very high” percentage of cases there is a positive result at the end of the procedure. However, it should be noted that he also added that in most cases additional ‘obligations’ are introduced to resolve critical and questionable circumstances regarding potentially anti-competitive items.

It is “theoretically possible” for the acquisition to go unscathed and accepted without any changes, but in most cases this happens with the addition of some additional commitments by the companies. Therefore, according to precedent, the most likely case is the approval of the acquisition of Activision Blizzard in the second case at the end of Phase 2, but in all probability with the addition of some Waivers or “obligations” by companies. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft intends to propose these additional corrections: the fact that it did not do so during the first stage is part of the typical way of working for companies that implement these operations, because even they are largely “forced” they prefer not to change the structure of agreements, but It is not clear whether there was an effective will from the House of Redmond to grant some self-limitation. This is actually the dubious point some market analysts have made: if the terms become too restrictive, Microsoft will likely decide to blow everything up, despite the need at the time to pay Activision Blizzard $3 billion. .

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In short, what emerged from the clear and truly comprehensive intervention of Ariana Podesta is that the passage of the investigations to the second stage is not an exceptional measure, but still reflects the presence of some questionable elements in the process, which must be clarified and resolved .. It also turns out that, in most cases, they are still Agreements tend to be agreed at the end of Phase 2, but these agreements will likely receive additional integrations and “commitments” from companies, and this point is perhaps more important, as it is a matter of knowing to what extent Microsoft still considers it worthwhile to make an acquisition with this Size with the mandatory nature of some privileges.

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