18 Apr South Africa to approve Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard
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Regulator says proposed merger is “unlikely to result in a substantial prevention of lessening of competition”
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South Africa is set to join the list of countries that has approved Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
The nation’s Competition Commission announced yesterday that it has recommended the Competition Tribunal approval the deal “without conditions.”
In its statement, the Commission said its primarily concern over the impact on competition centred around the possibility that Microsoft may make Call of Duty exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem after the merger.
However, the regulator later concluded that the deal was “unlikely to result in significant foreclosure concerns as the parties do not have the ability and incentive to foreclose competiting game distributors, particularly Sony and Nintendo.”
The Commission added that Microsoft and Activision have made several deals to ensure Call of Duty remains available on other platforms.
“Therefore, the Commission found that the proposed transaction is unlikely to result in a substantial prevention or lessening of competition in any relevant markets,” the regulator said.
“The Commission further found that the proposed transaction does not raise any substantial public interest concerns.”
The acquisition is being handled in South Africa by Anchorage, a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft.
In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: “The South African Competition Commission recommended approval of our merger with Microsoft based on a thorough review of the facts about competition in the gaming industry. We appreciate this additional affirmation from an important global regulator.”
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has already been approved in Japan, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia.
The biggest markets the platform holder needs to convince are the UK, European Union and the US.
The US Federal Trade Commission has already issued a legal challenge, with a hearing due to take place in August.
The European Commission issued a formal antitrust warning earlier this year, and is expected to make its final decision by May 22, 2023.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority initially expressed similar concerns over Call of Duty exclusivity, but has since retracted this. However, it is still concerned about competition on cloud gaming and subscriptions.
The CMA’s final decision is expected within the next week, before April 26, 2022.