New Zealand regulator gives nod to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

Pranav Bhardwaj

Microsoft Activision Blizzard Custom

In a big relief to the tech giant, New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has granted its approval for Microsoft’s impending acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard. The decision comes after a detailed evaluation by the commission, focusing on the deal’s potential impact on New Zealand’s gaming community.

The Commerce Commission’s scrutiny centered on the significance of Activision’s games, which encompass popular titles such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft, to New Zealand gamers. The key concern was whether Microsoft’s ownership of these games would hinder competitors like Sony and NVIDIA from offering them on consoles and cloud platforms.

The Commission’s Chair, Dr. John Stall, underlined that while games from Activision, particularly the renowned Call of Duty franchise, hold a special place among New Zealand gamers, the investigation did not find these titles to be indispensable for competing against Microsoft in the local gaming landscape.

This approval marks another step forward for the $69 billion merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. The merger, initially announced some time ago, has seen its timeline extended. Last month, the two companies agreed to extend their merger agreement until October 18, 2023, following the expiration of their initial deadline.

Prior to New Zealand’s approval, the European Commission had greenlit the transaction in May. Additionally, Microsoft emerged victorious in a legal battle against the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, paving the way for the deal’s finalization.

Microsoft President Brad Smith tweeted about the New Zealand approval and expressed readiness to move ahead. With the clearance from New Zealand, the acquisition now has the green light in 41 countries, as Smith highlighted. He affirmed Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to address any remaining concerns and bring the acquisition to a successful conclusion.

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