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UK Blocks Microsoft’s $69bn Acquisition Call of Duty Maker Activision Blizzard

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Britain, yesterday blocked Microsoft’s $69-billion takeover of US video game giant Activision Blizzard, arguing it would harm competition in cloud gaming and leaving the blockbuster deal in peril.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority prevented the deal “over concerns… (it) would alter the future of the fast-growing cloud gaming market, leading to reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years to come”, the CMA said in a final decision on its long-running probe.

Microsoft replied it would appeal the verdict over its vast takeover, which has yet to win regulatory approvals in Europe or the United States.

The Xbox-owner launched in 2022 its bid to create the world’s third biggest gaming company by revenue with the takeover of Activision, owner of hit games “Candy Crush” and “Call Of Duty”, triggering antitrust concerns worldwide.

The CMA added Wednesday that Microsoft’s proposed remedies over cloud gaming contained “significant shortcomings” and would require further regulatory oversight instead of allowing the market to decide.

“Preventing the merger would effectively allow market forces to continue to operate and shape the development of cloud gaming without this regulatory intervention,” it added in the statement.

Martin Coleman, chair of the independent panel of experts conducting the CMA probe, said the landmark deal would have handed Microsoft even more power over rivals.

“Microsoft already enjoys a powerful position and head start over other competitors in cloud gaming and this deal would strengthen that advantage, giving it the ability to undermine new and innovative competitors,” Coleman said.

“Microsoft engaged constructively with us to try to address these issues and we are grateful for that, but their proposals were not effective to remedy our concerns and would have replaced competition with ineffective regulation in a new and dynamic market.”

The announcement comes one month after the CMA narrowed the scope of its probe to cloud gaming, after concluding that Microsoft’s deal would not damage competition in relation to console gaming.

Yet it argued yesterday that the video games market needed competition to thrive.

“Cloud gaming needs a free, competitive market to drive innovation and choice,” added Coleman.

“That is best achieved by allowing the current competitive dynamics in cloud gaming to continue to do their job.”

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Group Urges Gov. Kefas to Probe Alleged Diversion of FG Palliatives

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A group, Taraba Concerned Citizens (TCC), has urged Gov. Agbu Kefas, to investigate alleged diversion of Federal Government (FG) palliatives to 16 local government areas (LGAs) and two development areas of the state.

The group, through its coordinator, Mr Timothy Gayus, and the secretary, Hamisu Salejo, made the call while speaking to newsmen in Jalingo on Sunday.

TCC called on Kefas to probe the local government council chairmen saddled with the responsibility of distributing the palliatives to the vulnerable.

Reports says that there have been widespread allegations of diversion of food palliatives sent to Taraba by the Federal Government, to cushion the effects of the economic hardship.

The items include bags of rice, maize, sorghum, garri and fertilisers, which were allegedly found on sale in major markets in the state.

“We demand to know why the palliatives meant to be distributed free to the masses have dominated all the major markets in the state without getting to the locals.

“Our question is that who sold them to the marketers? The palliatives were given to the state to cushion the present hardship the people are passing through, and not to be sold.

“The people are hungry, but the local government council chairmen chose to sell the palliatives.

“The people behind the diversion of the palliatives must be exposed and made to face the wrath of the law, in order to serve as deterrence to others,” the group said.

When contacted by some of the journalists on phone, Mr Saviour Nokun, Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Special Duties, said that it was the LGAs that first got the allocations.

Nokun assured that the allegations would be investigated and the culprits brought to book.

“Due to widespread outcry of alleged diversion of the commodities, I personally visited the Jalingo main market and found the commodities in some market stalls.

”This is sad and I want to assure you that the government will do everything possible to unmask those behind the diversion,” the commissioner vowed.

Available records from the ministry indicate that Wukari, Sadauna, Jalingo and Gasol LGAs, were given 850 bags each of rice, maize, milet and sugar; while the rest of the LGAs were allocated 800 bags of each of the items. (NAN)

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Reps to Probe NDDC Erosion Protection Contract in Bayelsa

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the abandoned erosion protection contract in Kolokuma/Opokuma in Bayelsa, awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

This followed the adoption of a motion by Rep. Abonsizibe Oboku(PDP-Bayelsa) during plenary in Abuja on Wednesday.

Presenting the motion, Oboku said that almost 20 years after, the project had been abandoned, adding that this had resulted into a perennial erosion, affecting a clan comprising 10 communities.

He said that Ayakotoama community had been washed away, adding that a substantial part of Orubiri community had suffered the same fate.

This, he said had led to the loss of lives and property, which he said could have been averted if the contractor and NDDC had lived up to the expectation of the aim and objectives of the said contract.

Adopting the motion, the House mandated the committee on NDDC to investigate the project and report back to the House in four weeks for further legislative action.(NAN)

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C’River Assembly Impeaches Speaker

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The Cross River House of Assembly, on Wednesday, impeached the Speaker, Mr Elvert Anyambem, over issues of gross misconduct and high-handedness.

The speaker’s impeachment was carried out during a sitting of the house in which he was presiding.

The impeachment followed a motion moved by the member representing Calabar South 1, Mr Effiong Ekarika, which was seconded by Mr Charles Omang, representing Bekwara constituency.

The motion was thereafter unanimously supported by other members of the house present at the sitting.

Moving his motion, Ekarika stated that Anyambem had grossly indulged in administrative misconduct, high-handedness and financial misappropriation.

Reports says that 17 out of 25 members of the assembly signed the notice for the speaker’s impeachment.

In the notice, Anyambem was said to have indulged in arbitrary expenditure, contrary to Section 9(1) of the state Legislative Funds Management Law, 2021

The notice stated that he misappropriated the sum of N48 million meant for the payment of the assembly’s electricity bills.

He was also accused of misappropriating N404.6m representing two per cent of the monthly revenue collected by the state Internal Revenue Service, and meant for oversight functions of the assembly.

“The speaker misappropriated the sum of N19.4m being deductions from the local government councils which he willfully failed to disclose to members,” the notice read in parts.

Reports says that after the impeachment, the mace was taken away by the members.

Attempts to speak to the impeached speaker proved abortive as he did not take calls or respond to text messages.(NAN)

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