As we know, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has remained the final major hurdle to the deal’s closure, initially blocking the acquisition in April.
Microsoft attempted to restructure its acquisition proposal by agreeing to sell cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, leading the CMA to initiate a new investigation into the merger.
We now know that this move seems to have been enough to satisfy the CMA, which has published its provisional decision today.
“Although the CMA has identified some residual issues with the new agreement, Microsoft has presented solutions that the CMA has provisionally concluded should address these issues,” the statement said.
It further states: “While the restructured deal is materially different from the previous transaction and substantially addresses most concerns, the CMA has limited residual concerns that certain provisions in the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft could be bypassed, terminated, or not enforced.”
Final verdict: October 6
The CMA has now opened a consultation until October 6, after which it will make a final decision. Unless any significant objections shed new light on the situation, it is expected that the CMA will now approve the deal.
Following the publication of the CMA’s provisional decision, Microsoft’s President and Vice Chairman, Brad Smith, tweeted: “We are encouraged by this positive step in the CMA’s review process.”
“We have submitted solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud gaming streaming, and we will continue to work to obtain approval to close before the October 18 deadline.”
Commenting on the provisional decision, Colin Raftery, Senior Director of Mergers and Head of Phase 1 at the CMA, said he was satisfied that Microsoft’s new proposal met the CMA’s concerns.
“This is a new and substantially different deal, which keeps the cloud distribution of these important games in the hands of a strong independent provider, Ubisoft, rather than under Microsoft’s control,” Raftery said.
It seems that the move to hand over the cloud to Ubisoft, a move that took everyone by surprise, has been enough to secure the long-awaited deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. Let the games begin.