July 24, 2024

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Microsoft has granted a two-month appeal pause over the Activision deal

Microsoft has granted a two-month appeal pause over the Activision deal

LONDON (Reuters) – A London court on Monday formally halted Microsoft (MSFT.O)’s appeal against Britain’s ban on its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O), to give the parties more time to resolve the issue. dispute.

Microsoft, Activision and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have all called for a two-month hold on the case after the CMA said it would consider a modified deal offered by Microsoft.

The Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) ruled on Monday that the full hearing of Microsoft’s appeal, which was scheduled to begin on July 28, should be postponed.

Judge Marcus Smith said he was willing to adjourn next week’s hearing if the CMA identifies why it believes there is a material change in circumstances or a special reason to request an adjournment.

The judge also asked the Capital Market Authority to define any new consultation process “so that everyone is clear about how it will work.”

The Capital Markets Authority in April became the first major regulator to block a takeover of the “Call of Duty” maker, citing concerns about the impact on competition in cloud gaming.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also opposed the tie-up, but suffered a major defeat last week when a federal court denied the FTC’s request to pause the deal.

In Britain, the CMA’s final report is usually the last word. Companies cannot offer remedies after they are published and their only recourse is CAT.

But last week, less than an hour after a US federal court ruled the deal could go ahead, the Capital Markets Authority said it might again consider an amended proposal. It later said a restructured deal might satisfy its concerns, subject to a new investigation.

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All parties filed for a two-month stay on the case in the CAT, which CMA attorneys said in court filings would “allow CMA and the parties to engage quickly and constructively with respect to Microsoft’s proposals.”

David Bailey, the attorney representing the CMA, told the court that the FTC’s initial defeat “wasn’t part of the CMA’s thinking” when it decided it would consider a new deal.

He added, “Based on the discussion to date, both sides – Microsoft and the CMA – have confidence that notifying Microsoft of a restructured deal is able to address the concerns identified by the CMA.”

“The UK is the only impediment to closing (the deal) and speed is of the essence,” said Daniel Bird, Microsoft’s attorney.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin) Editing by Josie Kao and Sharon Singleton

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