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The CMA provisionally approves Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition

While the UK's Competition & Markets Authority initially chose to block Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, things have changed in recent months. Both parties paused appeal proceedings to evaluate a new version of the merger, in which Activision's cloud gaming rights would be sold off to Ubisoft. Now, the CMA appears to be happy with the new proposal and is set to approve the deal. 

On Friday, the CMA announced that it has provisionally approved Microsoft's new Activision Blizzard King merger proposal. However, the CMA also says it has “limited residual concerns” but acknowledges that Microsoft has “offered remedies to ensure that the terms of the sale of Activision's rights to Ubisoft are enforceable by the CMA”. The authority notes that these remedies “should resolve those residual concerns”.

This is not a final decision, so don't expect the deal to close just yet. For now, the CMA is gathering public and private feedback from consumers and Microsoft's rivals, however, it should be noted that the biggest opponent of the deal, Sony, has signed a deal with Microsoft to retain Call of Duty on PlayStation and is no longer fighting against the merger. With that in mind, we don't expect any major opposition to arise.

The CMA will file its final decision in October, likely before the October 18th deadline. At that point, Microsoft will be free to close the deal, despite the fact that the FTC is still attempting to fight the merger over in the US courts. Microsoft already convinced a court to deny the FTC an injunction against the deal.

KitGuru Says: It has been well over 18 months since this merger was announced and we are only just now getting to a point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This situation should be resolved in just a matter of weeks. However, given how complicated this acquisition has been, I wouldn't expect Microsoft to target any more major publishers for quite some time, certainly not Nintendo or Valve, as those purchases would start to raise serious anti-trust concerns. 

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