Activision Blizzard is reportedly expecting an ‘accelerated’ appeals process for its proposed merger with Microsoft, despite the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ruling firmly against both parties following a recent months-long investigation. In an interview with CNBC, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick labelled this process ‘irrational’ and ‘flawed in every way’ while confirming the company’s intention to head straight to appeal.
According to Kotick, the investigation and subsequent blockage proved the CMA didn’t understand the games industry or how competition worked – and as a result, he expects the appeals process to run smoothly.
‘This was a transaction that was only going to enhance opportunities for competition,’ Kotick told CNBC. ‘It was just a flawed ruling in every respect. What it demonstrated to us is that these regulators, they really don’t understand our business.’
‘It was so flawed in every way that it is actually going to create a lessening of competition, which is the opposite of what their mission is, and so we think the appeals tribunal will see that and rule in our favour.’
The appeal is currently set to be investigated by the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, which will hand down a final verdict on the proposed acquisition. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will submit evidence for appeal, likely in the hopes of highlighting why the original ruling, which focused solely on Microsoft’s potential domination in the cloud gaming space, was ‘flawed’.
A decision on this appeal is expected within the next nine months – however, Kotick believes this process will be simple and swift.
‘We, and Microsoft, and our barristers, who are exceptionally experienced at judicial review, think that there’s a way to accelerate the process, and that the conclusions were so flawed, that we should be able to get an accelerated result,’ Kotick said.
At this stage, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have yet to file their appeals briefing due to the complex bureaucracy involved, but we’ll likely hear more about progress in the coming months.