Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has hurdled some major obstacles in recent months as various regulatory boards and rival companies tried to block the deal. In a new development, New Zealand becomes the latest country to approve of the buyout.
New Zealand’s Commerce Commission cleared Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard. According to the regulatory body, the deal is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the country. New Zealand previously raised competition concerns about the merger.
"While Activision games, in particular Call of Duty, are popular with New Zealand gamers, our enquiries did not find that they are likely to be ‘must have’ in order to compete with Microsoft in New Zealand," commission chair Dr. John Small said.
Microsoft, as expected, welcomed the approval by New Zealand. The tech giant reiterated that the deal benefits the gaming industry and gamers - a line they've trotted out repeatedly whenever another obstacle rolled away.
"We appreciate the thoughtful consideration by the New Zealand Commerce Commission of our acquisition of Activision Blizzard and welcome its decision to clear the deal unconditionally," a Microsoft spokesperson said to IGN. "This acquisition will ultimately benefit the gaming industry and gamers and we will continue to work toward closing the deal."
Microsoft president Brad Smith reacted to the approval on Twitter. Smith highlighted that the deal has been approved in 41 countries. "With today’s approval from New Zealand, we’re cleared to move forward with our acquisition of Activision Blizzard in 41 countries," Smith tweeted. "We will continue to work to resolve outstanding concerns and bring this deal to a close."
With today’s approval from New Zealand, we’re cleared to move forward with our acquisition of Activision Blizzard in 41 countries. We will continue to work to resolve outstanding concerns and bring this deal to a close. https://t.co/PwoJj490Ah
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) August 8, 2023
Microsoft received a thumbs-up from the European Commission a few months ago. The tech giant also defeated the US Federal Trade Commission in court. The biggest roadblock to the Microsoft – Activision Blizzard merger is the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.
The CMA blocked the deal and expressed concerns that the buyout would significantly lessen competition in the cloud gaming segment. The CMA’s Competition Appeal Tribunal recently gave Microsoft a two-month pause on its appeal to the Activision deal. This allows the company to renegotiate its proposal with the CMA.
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have also extended the deadline to close the $69 billion deal by three months. This allows the parties to work on the approval from the CMA. Microsoft needs to close the deal by October 18 or pay a hefty fine of several billion dollars in a reverse termination fee.
Microsoft is confident that it can close the deal before the deadline despite the CMA’s warning that it may open a new investigation should the company submit a new proposal. The CMA is scheduled to finalize its decision on August 29.