September 21, 2023

British Excessive Court docket decide Sir Marcus Alexander Smith has formally paused the UK CMA’s block of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, giving the 2 sides extra time to barter.

The UK Competitors and Markets Authority unexpectedly determined to dam the acquisition in April, however its regulators and Microsoft have discovered some widespread floor within the wake of Microsoft’s regulatory victory over the U.S. Federal Commerce Fee. And there was a blistering and complicated collection of backtracking ever since. Most not too long ago, the CMA indicated that it will attempt to pace a brand new choice, due to a brand new spherical of concessions from Microsoft, earlier than a previously-set July 28 appeals listening to and an August 29 deadline.

This new UK ruling places the legislation behind the CMA’s phrases by pausing any additional authorized proceedings in order that the 2 sides can attain an settlement. And there may be each indication that they may attain an settlement, upon which period Microsoft will instantly purchase Activision Blizzard, on condition that the CMA is the one regulatory holdout.

This example is exclusive on many ranges, however one we’ve not mentioned right here is how uncommon it’s for the CMA to backtrack because it has on this case: a CMA ultimate report on a regulatory matter is its ultimate phrase. For now, it’s unclear why the CMA is instantly so wanting to reassess the acquisition. However saving face—its choice was ridiculous and was opposite to each different regulatory evaluation of the deal save that of the FTC, which was equally ridiculous and didn’t survive a authorized problem—is an apparent guess.

In addition to, ought to the 2 sides attain an settlement, the CMA can at the very least declare that it wrung vital concessions from Microsoft that may profit UK-based rivals and/or customers. A win-win, in different phrases.