The British antitrust regulator CMA has provided more clarity about its plans for issuing a new decision on Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
In a witness statement requested by the CAT appeal Tribunal to delay its proceeding as the parties negotiate, the regulator interim general counsel Chris Prevett mentions that he expects the CMA's inquiry group to be able to reach a provisional view on Microsoft's restructured merger proposal in the week starting on August 7. Once that interim decision is published, third parties will have seven days to potentially intervene with their own representations.
We also hear that the CMA believes that the new proposal has a realistic chance to pass.
The CMA made the Joint Application because it believes that there is a realistic chance of a more certain outcome more quickly that resolves its competition concerns and protects consumers, whilst allowing a modified form of the transaction to go ahead.
The regulator is considering a few events that happened after it published its previous decision to block the merger. Specifically, the legally-binding conditions imposed by the European Union in the field of cloud streaming as part of its approval of the deal. These conditions are supported by a monitoring and enforcement regime, including a fast-track resolution regime with significant consequences if cloud gaming providers believe that Microsoft isn't fulfilling its agreed obligations.
On top of that, Microsoft argued that the CMA's block of the whole deal is disproportionate and unnecessary to prevent a significant lessening of competition in the cloud gaming industry-
Sony also agreed to a 10-year deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation platforms, and according to Microsoft, this is a s further material change in the situation.
On the other hand, the regulator confirmed that the FTC's failure to obtain a preliminary injunction both from a district court and from the court of appeals denied is irrelevant and immaterial to the CMA's course of action.
As a result of this witness statement and another provided by Microsoft (which will not be published because it includes confidential information), the CAT appeal tribunal has issued a final order delaying the evidentiary hearing that was supposed to begin on July 28. A new date has not been set.
In the meanwhile, Microsoft and Activision announced that they have extended the deadline for the merger, while the FTC has temporarily withdrawn its administrative lawsuit from adjudication as it weighs its options. On top of that, the plaintiffs of the so-called "Gamers' lawsuit" saw their plea for an emergency injunction denied by the Supreme Court.
Elsewhere, most regulators have ruled in favor of the acquisition, including recent decisions by the European Union, China, South Korea, South Africa, and Turkey, with a total of 40 countries clearing the acquisition.