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NortonLifeLock and Avast tie-up falls under UK competition regulator's spotlight

CMA invites comments from 'interested parties' on what merger means to them

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has invited comments from industry and interested parties about NortonLifeLock's proposed $8bn purchase of fellow infosec outfit Avast.

The merger inquiry will run until the 16 March when the comments will be collated and assessed to determine if there is sufficient concern to warrant a deeper investigation.

"The CMA is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002," it said.

If that is the case, the watchdog will try to ascertain "whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets" in the UK for goods and services.

The CMA has run a talon over many proposed purchases in the technology industry during this past twelve months, most notably widening the probe into Nvidia's intended buy of Arm and refused Meta Platform's slurp of Giphy.

The local security sector, specifically, has fallen under the glare of the regulator's spotlight on numerous occasions: in May the CMA slapped McAfee on the wrist for its sharper auto-renewal process; and the following month made the same agreement with Norton, making it easier for customers to get refund in cases where they were automatically signed up for another year.

Fast forward to October and the authority published compliance principles for antivirus companies to follow, with the tacit threat that any breaking consumer law could find themselves hauled to court.

As for NortonLifeLock and Avast, should the merger be given the all clear, it will create an organisation with $900m in quarterly revenues that is listed on the NASDAQ.

A NortonLifeLock spokesperson told us: "This is the normal, expected process of review with the CMA. As we noted in the 2.7 announcement, the UK was one of a handful of countries where some level of regulatory review was anticipated. We've been proactively engaged with them, and we continue to believe that the transaction will greatly benefit consumers and enhance product innovation for the combined companies." ®

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