The UK competition regulator will make a final decision on whether the merger would significantly reduce competition in the market in March 2023.
In September, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK's competition regulator, finished the first phase of its investigation into Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard saying that it recommends extending the investigation into the more "in-depth" second phase if Microsoft does not present arguments in favor of the fact that the competition in the market and consumers will not be affected in any way by the deal.
The UK's watchdog gave Microsoft five days to present evidence, however, it was later reported that Microsoft declined to supply it which is why the CMA started the second phase of the investigation.
At this stage, the CMA appointed an independent panel to scrutinize the deal in further detail. If the panel finds that there is an anti-competitive outcome, it must decide whether Microsoft or others should take any action to "remedy, mitigate or prevent the substantial lessening of competition" as well as which actions should be taken.
On Tuesday, the CMA published a timetable detailing how the investigation will proceed. The regulator set a deadline of March 1, 2023 to publish its final report and decision on Microsoft's proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition.
Prior to its final decision, in December 2022, the CMA will hold main party hearings, verify information, and consider provisional findings. December is also the deadline for all parties' responses and submissions before the provisional findings.
In January 2023, the CMA will notify provisional findings and possible remedies if required and hold response hearings. February 2023 will be the final deadline for all parties' responses and submissions.
The acquisition is currently being scrutinized by a number of regulators around the world including the European Commission. The European watchdog set a provisional deadline of November 8 when it will decide whether to clear the $68.7 billion deal or extend it into the second, more detailed phase of the investigation.