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UK Antitrust Regulator Won’t Investigate Microsoft-Mistral AI Partnership

Microsoft

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will not investigate Microsoft’s partnership with artificial intelligence (AI) startup Mistral AI.

“The CMA has decided that Microsoft Corporation’s partnership with Mistral AI does not qualify for investigation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2022,” the regulator said in a Friday (May 17) update.

The regulator said on April 24 that it was considering whether the partnership of the two companies could reduce competition within any market in the U.K. It invited interested parties to submit comments by May 9.

On the same day, the CMA issued a press release saying it was seeking views on the Microsoft and Mistral AI partnership, the Amazon and Anthropic partnership, and Microsoft’s hiring of former employees from Inflection AI.

The regulator added that these requests were the first part of its information gathering process and that it had not “formed any conclusions” on whether these three deals raised competition concerns.

“The CMA recently committed to step up the use of its merger control powers as part of its recent Foundation Models update,” Joel Bamford, executive director of mergers at the CMA, said in the April 24 press release. “While we remain open minded, and haven’t drawn any conclusions, our aim is to better understand the complex partnerships and arrangements at play.”

After receiving comments on the Microsoft and Mistral AI partnership, the regulator announced the launch of a merger inquiry on Thursday (May 16) and then announced its “found not to qualify” decision on Friday.

The CMA has not provided updates on its Amazon/Anthropic partnership merger inquiry or its Microsoft/Inflection AI inquiry since its April 24 announcement that it was seeking comments on these deals.

Some experts have warned that a strict antitrust ruling in these cases could alter how major corporations interact with emerging AI firms, dampen enthusiasm for new partnerships and stall the pace of innovation, PYMNTS reported April 24.

Ryan M. Yonk, a senior research faculty member at think tank the American Institute for Economic Reseach, told PYMNTS: “A direct ruling that prohibits exclusive partnerships or creates substantial barriers to building direct partnerships between generative AI companies and the major tech companies will likely make capital more difficult to obtain and would therefore slow their growth.”