The European Union’s antitrust regulator has approved Microsoft’s proposed $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax, it’s announced.
The EU cleared the acquisition without concessions during its preliminary review, it said on Monday.
It’s the latest sign that the deal is moving closer to completion. Last week private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners, which owned 25 percent of ZeniMax, removed the company from its website portfolio.
The United States SEC also published a Notice of Effectiveness, signalling that ZeniMax’s new registration statement had been accepted.
The EU said in a statement: “The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of ZeniMax Media Inc. by Microsoft Corporation…
“The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the combined entity’s limited market position upstream and the presence of strong downstream competitors in the distribution of video games. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.”
The European Union’s competition law is the most influential in the world alongside the United States’ own antitrust regulations.
Microsoft announced its intention to acquire ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion in September last year, with the deal expected to be completed in early 2021.
Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media will see Xbox Game Studios grow from 15 to 23 development teams.
Employing some 2,300 staff worldwide, Bethesda Softworks studios include Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout, Elder Scrolls), id Software (Doom), ZeniMax Online Studios (Elder Scrolls Online), Arkane (Dishonored, Prey), MachineGames (Wolfenstein), Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within), Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.
Microsoft could reportedly hold a Bethesda-themed event as soon as this month, should its acquisition deal close in time.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer recently said he believes that Bethesda’s development teams will be “very, very critical” to the future of the Xbox platform.
Discussing Xbox’s plans for 2021 in an Xbox podcast published in December, Spencer said he was excited to finally complete the ZeniMax acquisition “so that we can start working like one company.”
“I’m excited about 2021 and Bethesda is an important part of that,” he said.
“2021 is when we’ll get final approval. I feel really good about that: everything is on track. We’ll start then really getting to some of the planning that we can do with them. Right now we’re really hands-off with them as they continue to do the work that they’re doing, because we don’t own them yet.”