UK's CMA rejects probe into Microsoft-Mistral AI tie-up

FILE PHOTO: A Microsoft logo is seen in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's competition watchdog said on Friday it would not investigate the partnership between Microsoft and Mistral AI, weeks after it invited views on the tie-up.

In February, Microsoft invested $16 million in Mistral AI, partnering to make the French start-up's artificial intelligence models available through its Azure platform. It has also invested in ChatGPT owner OpenAI.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the Mistral partnership did not qualify for investigation under Britain's merger regulations.

"The CMA has considered information submitted by Microsoft and Mistral AI, together with feedback received in response to its invitation to comment," a CMA spokesperson said.

"Based on the evidence, the CMA does not believe that Microsoft has acquired material influence over Mistral AI as a result of the partnership and therefore does not qualify for investigation."

The CMA in April sought comments on the partnership, as well as separate links between Microsoft and Inflection AI and a tie-up between Amazon and Anthropic.

A Microsoft spokesperson said: "Investment and partnership are essential to new players in the AI economy.

"We welcome the CMA's determination that our fractional investment and partnership with Mistral AI does not qualify as a merger or acquisition."

European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who has been looking into Big Tech's partnerships with AI start-ups, met Mistral AI last month. "We need vibrant competition in AI, now," she wrote on X after the meeting.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle in London and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Chizu Nomiyama)