Microsoft has filed an appeal challenging the UK CMA’s decision to block its $69 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard.
A report from Bloomberg confirmed Microsoft’s formal filing through a company spokesperson. Its Wednesday response was made on the deadline for appeal, set last month after the CMA’s decision blocking the deal over concerns for cloud gaming.
In April, both Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick criticized the regulator’s market understanding and promised to challenge the decision. Smith said the CMA’s decision “discourages technology innovation and investment in the United Kingdom,” while Kotick wrote it was “far from the final word”.
As the merger remains in limbo in the UK, other regulators have approved the tech giant’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Last week, the European Commission announced it would allow Microsoft to proceed, and China’s State Administration also joined the 37 other regulators approving the company to move forward.
Microsoft’s appeal could take a while, and historically entities challenging CMA decisions do not find success. Recently, IGN spoke to legal expert Alex Haffner, a competition partner at London law firm Fladgate, who noted the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) would judge whether or not the CMA’s decision will be upheld. Haffner told IGN successful appeals “have been rare, albeit not unprecedented.”
On the US end, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced late last year it would seek to block gaming’s biggest deal, citing concerns over suppressing competition within the industry. The verdict on the FTC’s move to block the Microsoft and Activision deal remains undecided, but legal experts also explained to IGN that while the CMA’s decision does not directly dictate the FTC’s path, it may influence the US regulator’s case.
The global legal web doesn’t grow any less complex with time or the players involved, either. Activision recently hired a former Queen Elizabeth II lawyer for the CMA case, while Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick expressed support for Microsoft’s acquisition deal. Regardless, it looks like there’s a long legal battle ahead as the industry watches and waits for a final say on what will become of the Xbox platform holder and Call of Duty publisher.
Andrea Shearon is a freelance contributor for IGN covering games and entertainment. She’s worn several hats over her seven-year career in the games industry, with bylines over at Fanbyte, USA Today’s FTW, TheGamer, VG247, and RPG Site. Find her on Twitter (@Maajora) or the Materia Possessions podcast chatting about FFXIV, RPGs, and any series involving giant robots.