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Representatives of Microsoft will attend a hearing in Brussels on February 21, 2023, to defend the company’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Reuters reports.

This is likely Microsoft’s last chance to defend the deal in front of the European Commission, which previously sent the company a statement of objections listing a number of red flags and issues that EU regulators would like to see addressed. Therefore, it’s expected that Microsoft will offer concessions at the hearing to gain the approval of EU authorities to close the deal.

Such hearings are not open to the public, but can be attended by interested third parties. It’s very likely that Sony, which is the chief opponent to the takeover, will also send representatives.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick recently accused Sony of trying to “sabotage” the acquisition, calling fears about Activision and Call of Duty leaving PlayStation “absurd.” Earlier, a Microsoft representative stated that Sony tried to mislead EU regulators about the company’s intentions.

The main point of contention between the two tech giants is Call of Duty. Sony argues that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard would put Microsoft into a position to make the franchise into an Xbox exclusive product. Microsoft on the other hand denies any intentions of doing this, offering Sony a deal to put Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles for the next ten years on equal terms – it offered the same to Nintendo, which agreed.

Right now, PlayStation owners get extra benefits in Call of Duty, profiting from goodies like earlier beta access or longer double XP events, giving console market leader Sony a slight advantage.

Regulators in the US and UK are also skeptical about the takeover. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued Microsoft over the deal, while the UK’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA) states in its provisional report that the acquisition could harm UK gamers.

The CMA suggests that Microsoft should agree to structural remedies to obtain approval to the deal, namely to sell off parts of Activision Blizzard. Microsoft and other interested parties – again, this likely means more input from Sony – can respond to these propositions until February 22 and to the provisional report in general until March 1, 2023. That may lead to a similar hearing.

The EU regulators have set themselves a clear deadline to reach a final decision regarding this case, which is April 11, 2023.