The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has agreed to extend appeal negotiations over Microsoft’s planned Activision Blizzard acquisition, with a final verdict now set to be handed down on 29 August 2023. Initially, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) chose to block Microsoft’s merger, on the grounds that the company would gain an unfair advantage in the cloud gaming market.
Since then, the merger has been approved in the United States, with a judge ruling that it was not anti-competitive, and would not harm the global games industry. Following this judgement, Microsoft entered fresh negotiations with the CMA, with the goal of determining a viable path forward.
‘Microsoft and Activison have agreed with the CMA that a stay of the litigation in the UK would be in the public interest and the parties have made a joint submission to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to this effect,’ Microsoft president Brad Smith said of the mutual agreement.
The CAT has now granted this stay of litigation, ensuring an additional few weeks for Microsoft and the CMA to negotiate their dual stances, and determine where solutions may be offered.
‘Based upon the discussion to date, both sides – Microsoft and the CMA – have confidence that Microsoft notifying a restructured transaction is capable of addressing the concerns that the CMA has identified,’ CMA lawyer David Bailey told the CAT, per Reuters.
The extended negotiations will mean Microsoft’s deal to acquire Activision Blizzard will expire before this new deadline – but given progress so far, a temporary extension between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard is unlikely to be an issue.
When the CAT hands down its final verdict on 29 August 2023, it’s expected the final hurdle for Microsoft’s completed acquisition of Activision Blizzard will be cleared, pending solutions provided to the CMA.