UK's CMA Rejects Probe into Microsoft-Mistral AI Tie-up

UK's CMA Rejects Probe into Microsoft-Mistral AI Tie-up
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UK's CMA Rejects Probe into Microsoft-Mistral AI Tie-up

UK's CMA Rejects Probe into Microsoft-Mistral AI Tie-up

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, Reuters reported.

"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.



Apple Kills off Its Buy Now, Pay Later Service Barely a Year after Launch

An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)
An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)
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Apple Kills off Its Buy Now, Pay Later Service Barely a Year after Launch

An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)
An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)

Apple is discontinuing its buy now, pay later service known as Apple Pay Later barely a year after its initial launch in the US, and will rely on companies who already dominate the industry like Affirm and Klarna.

It's an acknowledgement from a company known for producing hit products that building a financial services business from scratch as Apple has been doing for several years is difficult and highly competitive.

Apple Pay Later launched with fanfare in March 2023 as a way for iPhone customers to split purchases of up to $1,000 into four equal payments with no fees or interest. The service was Apple's answer to the growing popularity of buy now, pay later services globally, and considered a sizeable threat to companies like Klarna, Affirm and others.

But Apple Pay Later was only available where Apple Pay was accepted whereas the other buy now, pay later companies had deeply integrated themselves into millions of merchant websites.

In an acknowledgement of how popular buy now, pay later services had become, Apple said at its developer's conference this month that it would start allowing banks to offer buy now, pay later plans to their customers through Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. Affirm would be integrated directly into Apple Wallet, and Apple customers would be able to open an Affirm account directly.

“With the introduction of this new global installment loan offering, we will no longer offer Apple Pay Later in the US,” Apple said late Monday. “Our focus continues to be on providing our users with access to easy, secure and private payment options with Apple Pay, and this solution will enable us to bring flexible payments to more users, in more places across the globe, in collaboration with Apple Pay enabled banks and lenders.”

Apple executives as recently as this month had indicated that the company still had plans for Apple Pay Later despite announcing plans to integrate Affirm directly into Apple Wallet.

Apple Pay Later was unique because Apple needed to create its own bank to offer the loans. The Apple Card is issued by Goldman Sachs, which means Goldman ultimately decides who gets approved and what spending limits are for each customer.

Apple has discontinued any new Apple Pay Later loans, but customers who have existing Apple Pay Later loans will be able to manage them inside Apple Pay.