EU Antitrust Regulator Will Decide Whether It Will Investigate The Bethesda/Microsoft Acquisition By March 5

As reported by Reuters, the European Union will rule by March 5 whether or not to approve Microsoft’s proposed $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax, which owns Bethesda, the publisher of the Fallout, The Elder Scrolls and Doom franchises.

The EU can approve the deal with or without concessions during its initial review or open a full-scale investigation if concerns arise. EU competition law regulates market competition by cracking down on anti-competitive conduct. In the case of mergers and acquisitions, regulators can disallow deals that threaten market competition, or force the company to divest its interests.

In the past ten years, the EU has blocked the merger of TNT and UPS, as well as the takeover of Aer Lingus by Ryanair. Last September, Microsoft proposed acquiring ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion, with the deal expected to be finalized in early 2021.

The acquisition would enable Xbox Game Studios to grow from 15 to 23 development teams. With an estimated 2,300 employees worldwide, Bethesda Softworks studios include Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout, Elder Scrolls), id Software (Doom), ZeniMax Online Studios (Elder Scrolls Online), Arkane (Dishonored, Prey), MachineGames (Wolfenstein), Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within), Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.

Recently, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said that Bethesda’s development teams would be “very, very critical” to the future of Xbox, adding that he hoped to complete the acquisition soon “so that we can start working like one company.”

“2021 is when we’ll get final approval. I feel really good about that: everything is on track. We’ll start then really getting to some of the planning that we can do with them. Right now we’re really hands-off with them as they continue to do the work that they’re doing, because we don’t own them yet,” he added.

Last September, Spencer said he was happy to see that Xbox fans welcomed the acquisition, “and probably more important to me right now is the Bethesda teams, because those teams are going to be very, very critical to our progress going forward.”

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