EU says OK to Acti-Blizzard union

Antitrust body deems $18.9 billion merger of publishing powerhouses would not create unfair competition.


Today, Activision and Vivendi Games cleared yet one more hurdle lying in the path of their $18.9 billion merger. The European Commission, which is part of the European Union, has approved the deal under its antitrust guidelines, concluding that an Activision Vivendi mash-up "would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it."

According to the EC's report, the merger's reach was measured on both a horizontal and vertical scale. In terms of horizontal competition, the EC deemed the Vivendi-Activision union would "continue to face several strong, effective competitors, such as Electronic Arts, and the game console manufacturers, such as Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft."

Addressing vertical synergies, the EC noted that Vivendi's ownership of Universal Music Group would give Activision an advantage in licensing music but concluded that other publishers would continue to have access to a "sufficiently large portfolio of music rights from alternative suppliers." The EC also noted that the merger would not impact wholesale distribution competition of PC games in the UK.

In February, soon-to-be Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that the merger was progressing as anticipated and was expected to conclude by June. To secure its 52 percent controlling stake in the newly formed conglomerate, Vivendi has undertaken several financing initiatives, including securing loans to the tune of €4 billion (about $6.3 billion) by January as well as banking an additional $1.4 billion earlier this month from the issuance of corporate bonds to various banking institutions.

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