March 23, 2023

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Microsoft chief pushes Activision deal to EU hearing; Google, Nvidia are also present

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Microsoft chief Brad Smith will seek on Tuesday to convince European Union antitrust regulators in a closed hearing that the US software giant has made a $69 billion bid for Call of Duty company Activision Blizzard (ATVI). O) It will enhance competition.

A European Commission document seen by Reuters showed Smith will lead a delegation of 18 senior executives, including Microsoft Games CEO Phil Spencer, while Activision CEO Robert Kotick will be represented.

The hearing will allow Microsoft, the Xbox maker, to gauge the mood among EU and local competition officials and European Commission lawyers before offering solutions to address antitrust concerns.

“I think we’ll make clear that our acquisition of Activision Blizzard will bring more games to more people on more devices and platforms than ever before,” Smith told reporters on his way to the hearing.

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Smith added that Microsoft was willing to address concerns about “Call of Duty” licensing offers similar to the 10-year deal with Nintendo (7974.T) and regulatory undertakings, without providing any further details.

Microsoft announced its acquisition of Activision in January last year to take on leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758t), but faced regulatory headwinds in Europe, Britain and the United States.

Sony, wanting to block the deal, sent gaming chief Jim Ryan.

Also participating in the hearing were Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Google, chip designer and computing company Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O), which has a gaming business.

A Google spokesperson said: “The European Commission has requested our views in the course of its investigations into this case. We will continue to cooperate in any processes, when requested, to ensure that all views are considered.”

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Nvidia declined to comment. The European Game Developers Association, which said the deal would allow Microsoft to challenge Apple (AAPL.O), Google and Tencent, is one of the participants.

Video game distributor Valve, video game publisher Electronic Arts (EA.O), the German competition watchdog and their counterparts in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden will also participate in the event.

Fu Yun Che’s report. Editing by Chris Reese and Shonak Dasgupta

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