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Norton and Avast merger 'provisionally' approved by UK regulator

Competition and Markets Authority investigation suggests new software giant would still face "significant" competition

A magnified image showing the NortonLifeLock website url

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given provisional approval to NortonLifeLock's $8.6bn acquisition of rival firm Avast.

The decision is seen as the final hurdle for the two companies to merge into a security giant. 

A CMA investigation was launched into the deal earlier in the year with the regulator expressing concern that the deal could harm competition and offer up a poor deal to UK customers looking for security software. The deal has already received the green light in the US, Spain and Germany. 

After a detailed phase 2 investigation, the CMA concluded that the deal did not raise competition concerns in the UK. Specifically, the regulator found that the merged business would still face significant competition, from the likes of McAfee and a wealth of other suppliers that operate on a smaller scale.

Millions of people across the UK rely on cyber safety services to keep them safe online," Kirstin Baker, chair of the CMA inquiry group, said. "After gathering further information from the companies involved and other industry players, we are currently satisfied that this deal won't worsen the options available to consumers. As such, we have provisionally concluded that the deal can go ahead."

Avast was founded in Prague, Czech Republic, and has become a pioneer of 'freemium' software which is a way of offering some of its applications for free while more premium services can be had for a monthly fee.

NortonLifeLook was previously known as Symantec, a name change it adopted after it sold off its Broadcom enterprise business in 2019. The firm offers a larger premium business, compared to Avast, selling products to combat malware and spyware

With provisional approval from the CMA, the first possible date for the merger is 12 September. 

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