According to a proxy filing published on Monday by Activision Blizzard (as spotted by Wccftech), “Activision Blizzard and Microsoft each received a request for additional information and documentary material […] from the FTC in connection with the FTC’s review of the transaction.”
The request isn’t necessarily an indication that there’s an issue with the proposed acquisition, or that the FTC is shaping up to try to block the deal in any way. Rather, it’s an expected step when reviewing a deal this large.
The main purpose of the proxy filing was to note that a special meeting of Activision Blizzard shareholders would be taking place on April 28.
If a majority of shareholders don’t vote to approve the acquisition during this meeting, it can’t be completed, and anyone who doesn’t vote will be counted as being ‘against’ it.
It was reported last month that the FTC would be handling the antitrust review for the acquisition, as opposed by the Justice Department, which typically works with the FTC on similar cases.
As originally reported by Bloomberg, the FTC will investigate the deal to determine whether the takeover of the publishing giant constitutes unfair competition, according to a person speaking to the organisation anonymously.
The Activision Blizzard acquisition means that Xbox will gain exclusive ownership of some of the industry’s biggest franchises including Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, Guitar Hero and more.
The deal is expected to close in Microsoft’s fiscal year 2023. However, this is subject to closing conditions and completion of regulatory review.
Competition law seeks to maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies. In the case of mergers and acquisitions, regulators can prohibit deals which are considered to threaten market competition or suggest remedies such as an obligation to divest part of the new business.
DFC Intelligence owner David Cole told GamesIndustry.biz last month: “The big issue is if COD becomes a Microsoft exclusive. Right now, I don’t think [it will]. For one thing, it would be hard to get it past regulators if they want to lock the competition out.”
Microsoft reportedly plans to keep making “some” Activision Blizzard games for PlayStation consoles following the takeover, and Xbox head Phil Spencer has claimed that “it’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform”.
Microsoft president Brad Smith later reiterated that the acquisition would not prevent future Activision Blizzard games from being released on PlayStation consoles, and that it wanted to release more franchises, including Call of Duty, on Switch.