Activision Blizzard and Microsoft have each hired prominent lawyers to appeal the UK Competition & Markets Authority’s recent decision to block their proposed merger. Activision Blizzard has hired Lord David Pannick KC, while Microsoft has retained Daniel Beard KC. The two companies will file appeals independently with the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The CMA blocked the merger over concerns about the cloud gaming market, but Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has stated that the company does not need to acquire Activision Blizzard to fulfill its ambitions in the gaming space.
Who are the lawyers leading Activision Blizzard and Microsoft’s appeal?
Activision Blizzard has hired Lord David Pannick KC to lead its appeal against the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority’s decision to block the company’s merger with Microsoft. Pannick is a high-profile lawyer who has previously represented Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, among others. He is part of the Blackstone Chambers law firm and has extensive experience with a wide range of high-profile clients, including the prime minister of the UAE and the entire kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has hired Daniel Beard KC of Monckton Chambers to lead its appeal. Beard is a well-known legal figure who specializes in competition, public policy, and regulatory matters. He is described as a “big player” in his field and will no doubt bring significant expertise to Microsoft’s case.
Why did the Competition & Markets Authority block the merger?
The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority blocked the proposed $68.7 billion merger between Activision Blizzard and Microsoft over concerns about the cloud gaming market. Specifically, the CMA was worried that the merger would give Microsoft too much power in this emerging market, potentially stifling competition and harming consumers. The regulator defined a market for cloud gaming that it believes does not yet exist, but which it claims is in the process of forming. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has argued that the company does not need to acquire Activision Blizzard to succeed in the gaming space, but the acquisition would accelerate its plans.
What is the appeals process?
Both Activision Blizzard and Microsoft will file appeals with the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, which will consider their cases and issue a ruling. The appeals process is expected to be complex and challenging, which is why both companies have hired high-profile, experienced lawyers. The CMA’s decision in this case is similar to an earlier one involving Facebook parent company Meta, which bought Giphy in 2020. The CMA ordered Meta to sell Giphy in 2022 following concerns over competition in the animated images market.
What are the implications of the appeal for the gaming industry?
The outcome of the appeal could have significant implications for the gaming industry, particularly in the cloud gaming market. If the Competition Appeal Tribunal upholds the CMA’s decision to block the merger, it could make it more difficult for companies to make similar moves in the future. If the appeal is successful, on the other hand, it could pave the way for more mergers and acquisitions in the gaming industry. It remains to be seen what the impact of the appeal will be, but it is clear that both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are determined to fight the CMA’s decision and pursue their vision for the future of gaming.