Microsoft faces EU antitrust warning over Activision deal - sources

Microsoft faces EU antitrust warning over Activision deal – sources

BRUSSELS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Microsoft ( MSFT.O ) may receive an EU antitrust warning over its $69 billion bid for “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard ( ATVI.O ), That could pose another challenge to completing the deal, people familiar with the matter said.

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

The EU’s 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 U.S. software giant and Xbox maker announced the acquisition last January to help it better compete with leaders Tencent ( 0700.HK ) and Sony ( 6758.T ).

However, US and UK regulators have expressed concern, with the US Federal Trade Commission going to court to block the deal.

Microsoft was expected to offer remedies to EU regulators in a bid to avoid an indictment and shorten the regulatory process, other sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in November.

However, the EU competition watchdog is not expected to be open to remedies without first sending its charge sheet, although there are ongoing informal talks on concessions, the people said.

Microsoft last month struck a 10-year deal with Nintendo ( 7974.T ) to make “Call of Duty” available on Nintendo consoles, saying it was open to a similar deal with Sony, which has criticized the acquisition.

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

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee Editing by Mark Potter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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