Today, during the case management conference of Microsoft's appeal against the CMA's prohibition of the merger with Activision Blizzard, the parties provided more information about what happened.
The CMA's counsel explained that the regulator believes that the requested adjournment of the appeal by two months would enable a rapid process for considering Microsoft's restructured deal. While the lawyer won't pre-judge the CMA's assessment of the deal, the discussion between the regulator and the parties (Microsoft and Activision) has been productive and both sides want a "short opportunity" to address the CMA's concerns.
If these concerns are addressed, then they anticipate a situation of certainty to be achieved more quickly than if the current litigation moved forward.
In order for this to happen, the transaction would have to be materially different from the one that was previously denied. The CMA needs time to consider whether the restructured transaction creates a different situation, as it has not actually seen the final version of the restructured transaction yet.
Microsoft's counsel mentioned that they're confident and there's no doubt that Microsoft's proposal isn't simply a tweaked variant of the previous merger proposal, but something materially different. The part of the transaction that was of concern to the CMA won't be part of the transaction anymore.
In essence, there's confidence from both parties that the new proposed deal may address the CMA's concerns about it. While the CMA's counsel can't promise that there will be a favorable outcome, he said "on instruction" (from the CMA itself) that there is a realistic chance for it, and that would be both expeditious and final (IE: there would be no reason for further appeals).
This follows the agreement between the parties to further negotiate before the appeal, and the CMA extending the deadline for its final order.
This comes after the American antitrust regulator FTC failed in its last-ditch attempt to correct its defeat in court in the attempt to block the acquisition. While the regulator's administrative process still hasn't been called off, its chance to stop the acquisition before it consummates are very low.
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. New Zealand expressed doubts about the deal and Canada expressed its disapproval with a letter, but neither has formally moved to block the acquisition yet.