Microsoft’s Mistral partnership avoids merger probe by British regulators

Technology

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The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority cleared Microsoft’s AI partnership with Mistral of regulatory concerns after previously inviting views on whether the arrangement qualified as a merger.

The CMA said in a brief statement Friday that the deal “does not qualify for investigation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002.”

CNBC has reached out to Microsoft and Mistral.

Mistral, a French AI firm founded in 2023, won a 15 million euro ($16 million) investment from Microsoft earlier this year.

Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. tech giant receives a minority stake in Mistral, while the French company adds its large language models to the U.S. tech giant’s Azure cloud computing platform.

In April, the CMA began seeking views from interested parties on partnerships agreed by U.S. tech giants with smaller AI firms to determine whether arrangements between the companies qualify as mergers.

As part of that effort, the CMA looked into the minority investment deals agreed by Microsoft and Mistral, as well as into whether Microsoft’s hiring of certain former employees from AI startup Inflection constitutes a merger. The watchdog separately invited comment on the arrangements between Amazon and Anthropic.

Now, the regulator says it’s no longer looking into Microsoft’s investment in Mistral. It has given no update on its inquiries into the Amazon-Inflection deal and into Microsoft’s hiring of employees from Inflection.

Microsoft previously denied its deals with OpenAI and Mistral and hiring of employees from Inflection constituted mergers. Amazon has also said that its partnership with Anthropic represents a limited corporate investment, not a merger.

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