Microsoft’s appeal of a veto of Activision Blizzard’s acquisition presents a chance to “find a third way” in the feud, legal experts say.
The Xbox maker formally appealed on Wednesday against a British regulator’s decision to close the $69 billion (€64 billion) agreement. The shock intervention was a potentially fatal blow to the bid for Activision, which owns the Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and Warcraft franchises.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had concluded that the purchase would give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the burgeoning cloud gaming market.
The decision made the CMA an international outlier among antitrust regulators — and anathema to Microsoft. The president of the tech giant, Brad Smith said the movement was “bad for Britain” and Microsoft’s “darkest day” in their four decades of operation in the country. He promised to appeal the ruling.
That promise has now been fulfilled. a A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that a formal appeal was filed on Wednesday – the deadline for filing it.
Gareth Mills, a partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, said Microsoft’s rhetoric shows the company is taking an “extremely robust” approach to the call. He added that the company is willing to use its “considerable resources to test the resolve of the CMA.”
That determination is already under considerable pressure. In addition to heavy pressure from Microsoft, Activision and countless gamers backing the deal, the CMA has become increasingly isolated.
In the past two weeks, both China and the EU have approved the deal. According to Microsoft, the acquisition has now been approved by 37 countries, representing more than two billion people.”
In the appeal against the CMA veto, the EU’s decision could be particularly influential.
“The EU’s approval of the Activision acquisition (albeit with conditions attached) could give both parties the opportunity to find a third way,” says Mills, “although that would mean a significant change in tone and attitude relative to those currently being expressed.”