Microsoft Gaming CEO Says Scrutiny of Activision Blizzard Acquisition is 'Fair' and 'Warranted'

"I do think the discussion around an acquisition of this size is warranted."
"I do think the discussion around an acquisition of this size is warranted." / Wall Street Journal

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer says discussions with regulators regarding the company's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard have been "very fair and honest," as well as "warranted."

Spencer voiced his latest thoughts about the deal during a Wall Street Journal Tech Live event on Wednesday (H/T VGC), reaffirming his confidence that regulators will ultimately approve it.

"It might be surprising to people," Spencer said, "but I’m not an expert on doing $70 billion deals. But I do know that we’re very focused on getting approval in the major jurisdictions and I’m spending a lot of time both in Brussels, London and with the FTC here in the U.S. And I'd say the discussions have been, what I would say, very fair and honest. That it is a big acquisition, there’s no doubt. Microsoft and its role in the tech industry, we're a large tech company, and I do think the discussion around the acquisition of this size is warranted and I’ve appreciated the time to go spend.

"We’re really focused on getting the deal approved in the markets. I’m confident in that. I was just in London last week, and continue to have discussions with all the regulatory boards, and remain confident that we’ll get the deal approved."

In September, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed he too, is "very confident" that his company's acquisition of Activision Blizzard will go through despite increased scrutiny at home and abroad.

Subject to customary closing conditions and the completion of regulatory review, the proposed transaction is expected to close in Microsoft’s fiscal year ending on June 30, 2023.

Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been approved by shareholders, but it's yet to be approved by regulators.

According to a report published by Dealreporter on Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could reportedly rule on the proposed acquisition by late November.

Meanwhile, the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority recently flagged the deal for a second, more in-depth review following its first pass, announcing on Tuesday that it has set a deadline of March 1, 2023, to publish its findings.

On Sept. 30, Microsoft officially notified the European Commission to examine the deal, meaning that it has until Nov. 8, 2022, to either approve the deal or trigger its own in-depth investigation.

In August, Sony reportedly claimed to CADE that Xbox acquiring Call of Duty would be anti-competitive.

As reported by Bloomberg in February, the current Call of Duty deal between Sony and Activision Blizzard is believed to remain in place for the franchise's next three releases, including this year's Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.0, as well as CoD 2024.

In September, The Verge reported that Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer had provided a signed agreement to Ryan and Sony to guarantee Call of Duty would remain on PlayStation for "at least several more years" beyond their current contract.

PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan then put out a statement that Microsoft's offer to keep Call of Duty on PS platforms "was inadequate on many levels," before personally visiting the European Union headquarters on Sept. 8 to voice PlayStation's concerns over the deal.

On Oct. 5, Brazil’s national competition regulator, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), approved Microsoft’s deal with no restrictions.