UK Regulator CMA Extends Deadline In Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Acquisition Case

U.K. regulatory agency, the Competition and Markets Authority, has extended its deadline for delivering a potentially new ruling on Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition by six weeks. 

In April, the CMA blocked this acquisition over cloud gaming concerns, making Microsoft’s fight for the green light in this acquisition more challenging. But it shifted its sights on the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. afterward, with plans to appeal the CMA’s ruling in the meantime. 

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Earlier this week, California Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley denied the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction in its case to block Microsoft and Xbox from acquiring Activision Blizzard. Shortly after that decision, Microsoft announced it paused its appeal efforts in the U.K. to negotiate with the CMA. The deadline for the CMA to listen and consider Microsoft’s new but currently unknown proposal to have the regulatory agency reverse course and rule this acquisition can go through in the U.K. was July 18. But the CMA has extended that deadline by six weeks to the new August 29, 2023 date. 

Here’s what the CMA wrote in its extension filing: 

“The CMA considers that there is insufficient time remaining in the statutory period for full and proper consideration of Microsoft’s submission on the proposed Order. As such, the Inquiry Group considers that there are special reasons to extend by six weeks under section 41A(2) of the Act the period for the discharge of its duty under section 41(2) of the Act. The revised period will therefore end on 29 August 2023. However, the Inquiry Group aims to discharge its duty as soon as possible and in advance of this date.” 

This new date adds another wrinkle to Microsoft’s acquisition efforts. The company’s deadline to close the deal is July 18. After the FTC’s ruling – its appeal was denied, as expected, by Judge Corley, but a decision has not been made by the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit – Microsoft can theoretically close on time. 

In fact, New York City-based stock exchange NASDAQ announced yesterday that it is removing Activision Blizzard from the market before it opens on Monday, July 17, seemingly alluding to Microsoft closing the deal before then or shortly after (thanks, Tom Warren of The Verge). All signs point to Microsoft closing the deal by its July 18 deadline; however, that leaves the question of the U.K. If it closes July 18 without an updated ruling (presumably in Microsoft’s favor) from the CMA, Microsoft likely needs to carve the U.K. out of the deal or assume that later down the road, before August 29, the two parties will reach a satisfying agreement. But only time will tell. 

To catch up on everything that’s happened so far, first read about Microsoft revealing it was acquiring Activision Blizzard for a colossal $69 billion and check out this story about how the CMA blocked this acquisition in the U.K. over cloud gaming concerns. After that, read about how the FTC’s preliminary injunction request was denied by a California judge this week and then read about Microsoft’s new plans to negotiate something satisfactory with the CMA.

Do you think Microsoft and the CMA will come to a satisfactory agreement? Let us know in the comments below!

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