Microsoft’s $13bn investment into OpenAI could be facing a large-scale EU antitrust investigation, after the firing and rehiring of CEO Sam Altman made it clear how interlinked the two companies are with one another. 

An EU announcement on Tuesday (9 January) outlined that it is looking to see if Microsoft’s investment into the ChatGPT maker will be subject to an in-depth review.

If the requirements are met, the two companies may face a probe from EU regulators to see if the merger is allowed.

Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI has led to the company speeding ahead in the AI race. The tech giant has integrated the ChatGPT-maker’s products into every facet of its business, while its rivals scramble to implement their own AI capabilities. 

The recent ousting of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and his subsequent hiring clearly showed how close the two companies have become. Following the ousting, shares in Microsoft fell heavily and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella fought to get him back. 

Microsoft even offered to hire Altman and other voluntary leavers of OpenAI. 

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EU regulators announced a call on Tuesday for feedback on some of the competitive issues that could arise in the field of generative AI.

In an EU statement, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said: “We are inviting businesses and experts to tell us about any competition issues that they may perceive in these industries, whilst also closely monitoring AI partnerships to ensure they do not unduly distort market dynamics.”

GlobalData estimates that the AI global market will reach $909bn by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 35.2% between 2022 and 2030.