LONDON: The UK on Friday said it was close to finally approving Microsoft’s US$69-billion bid for “Call of Duty” video game maker Activision Blizzard after the deal addressed regulatory concerns.
The Competition and Markets Authority said in a statement that “the restructured deal makes important changes” and “opens the door to the deal being cleared”.
Microsoft, maker of the Xbox gaming console, had last month submitted a new proposal to the CMA after a previous version was blocked.
The US tech titan launched its bid early last year, seeking to establish the world’s third biggest gaming firm by revenue after China’s Tencent and Japan’s PlayStation maker Sony.
But the deal for the purchase of the owner of game titles including “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush” has faced significant scrutiny by regulators.
“In response to our original prohibition, Microsoft has now substantially restructured the deal, taking the necessary steps to address our original concerns,” CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell said in Friday’s statement.
Microsoft will no longer purchase the cloud-gaming rights held by Activision and instead they will be sold to French game-developer Ubisoft Entertainment.
“This is a new and substantially different deal, which keeps the cloud distribution of these important games in the hands of a strong independent supplier, Ubisoft, rather than under the control of Microsoft,” said Colin Raftery, senior director of mergers at the CMA.
Outside the UK, the European Union cleared the deal in May while the US antitrust regulator in late July paused its attempt to block the buyout following a setback in court.