Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) revised $69B offer to acquire Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) has passed muster with UK regulators, clearing the way for the technology sector’s biggest-ever acquisition.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority granted consent for the deal early Friday under paragraph 12 of its Microsoft and Activision Merger Inquiry Order. That allows for the purchase, excluding Activision’s non-European Economic Area cloud streaming rights.
The regulator’s objections marked the last major global hurdle in a deal that has been more than a year and a half in the making.
The approval is subject to the completion of the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights prior to completing the acquisition.
Those streaming rights will be divested to Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY), helping to establish the French company as a key supplier of content to cloud gaming services and taking the role that Activision would have played without the merger, the CMA said.
“The new deal will stop Microsoft from locking up competition in cloud gaming as this market takes off, preserving competitive prices and services for UK cloud gaming customers,” the regulator said alongside the decision. “It will allow Ubisoft to offer Activision’s content under any business model, including through multigame subscription services. It will also help to ensure that cloud gaming providers will be able to use non-Windows operating systems for Activision content, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.”
“With the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, we’ve made sure Microsoft can’t have a stranglehold over this important and rapidly developing market,” CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell said. “As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure people get more competitive prices, better services and more choice. We are the only competition agency globally to have delivered this outcome.”
“But businesses and their advisors should be in no doubt that the tactics employed by Microsoft are no way to engage with the CMA,” she added. “Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work. Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money.”