UK clears $8.1B merger between NortonLifeLock and Avast

The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has formally cleared the proposed $8.1 billion merger between cybersecurity giants NortonLifeLock and Avast, a month after provisionally greenlighting the deal.

The merger has been hanging in the balance since plans were first revealed last August. The CMA revealed in March that it was launching an investigation, stating that combining two closely-aligned, market-leading rivals raised significant competition concerns. And this is true, as both companies are leading cybersecurity players, with products spanning antivirus, identity protection, VPNs and more.

Last month however, the CMA took a somewhat different tone, stating that the merger didn’t, in fact, raise competition issues in the U.K., citing Microsoft’s growing array of cybersecurity products as one reason. Indeed, Microsoft has been bolstering its Defender-branded security offerings for consumers and enterprises alike — earlier this summer, the company launched Microsoft Defender for Individuals across all major desktop and mobile platforms, while it also launched a standalone version of Microsoft Defender for Business.

According to the CMA, these products — along with services from long-standing rivals such as McAfee — means that everyone has become less reliant on NortonLifeLock or Avast.

“In recent years, Microsoft has improved its built-in, bundled security application so that it now offers protection which is as good as many of the products offered by specialist suppliers,” the CMA wrote in its final assessment today. “In addition, applications recently launched by Microsoft for its customers bring its cyber safety offering closer to those of the merging businesses and are likely to further strengthen Microsoft as a competitor going forward.”