Yet another country has given its approval for Microsoft's plan to acquire game publisher Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. Today, the Competition Tribunal of South Africa "unconditionally approved the proposed merger", making it one of nearly 40 countries to give the deal its thumbs up.
The posted decision did not go into details about why it decided to let the acquisition go through, saying only, "The Tribunal’s reasons for its decision will be issued in due course."
Most of the world has either approved the deal or allowed the acquisition to go through past certain deadlines without issuing any objections. The countries that make up the European Union passed the deal in May, although with certain conditions.
Right now, two countries have voiced objections to Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard. In April the UK's Competition Markets Authority decided to block the deal from going through in that country, claiming that Microsoft would have an unfair advantage in the cloud gaming part of the industry. Microsoft quickly appealed that decision, and that appeal is expected to be heard in a hearing scheduled for late July.
However, that appeal could be a moot point depending on what might happen this week. The US Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Microsoft to block the deal on antitrust grounds in December.
In June, lawyers for both sides battled in a courtroom in northern California, because the FTC wants a preliminary injunction placed on the deal before Microsoft could potentially close it on July 18. The five-day hearing included testimony from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Sony's PlayStation head Jim Ryan, and other major game company executives. It also includes some interesting internal documents and emails from Microsoft, Sony, and others about their gaming businesses.
The judge in the case could make a decision on the FTC's preliminary injunction request as soon as today, although it's more likely that it will happen later in the week. Microsoft has already indicated that if the judge does rule in the FTC's favor, that could force the company to cancel its plans to buy Activision Blizzard.