UK Appeal Tribunal Conditionally Admits Microsoft's Expert Evidence in Activision Blizzard Acquisition

The UK appeal tribunal (CAT) has conditionally admitted Microsoft's request to submit expert evidence against the CMA's decisions (which the CMA opposed) in the Activision Blizzard acquisition case. 👀

Published: June 12, 2023 12:13 PM /


Microsoft Activision Acquisition

Today the British Competitions Appeal Tribunal hosted the second case management conference about Microsoft's appeal against the CMA's decision to block the acquisition of Activision Blizzard

According to FOSS Patents founder Florian Mueller, who was present at the conference, the parties argued over the admission of economic expert testimonies by Microsoft intended to prove that the CMA misjudged its assessment of the cloud market and the value of the deals with Nvidia and other cloud providers among other things.  

The CMA attempted to persuade the tibunal to refuse said submissions, while Microsoft explained that it wants to submit "focused, narrow, and short material" to integrate the tribunal's expertise on the matter.

At the end of the hearing, which lasted several hours and the livestream of which was interrupted due to the posting of images online, which is not permitted, the judge presiding the conference ruled that the timetable allows for the submission of expert evidence requested by Microsoft, albeit only for specific purposes. 

That being said, if the court finds that the evidence provided is inadmissible, Microsoft will have to reimburse the CMA for the cost of paying experts to examine it and respond (the alleged inability of recruiting such experts in time was one of the CMA's arguments). On top of that, Microsoft and Activision will have to quickly respond to any questions from the CMA about the submitted evidence. According to the report, the judge mentioned that this is no criticism, as Microsoft has always responded expeditiously so far. 

At the moment of this writing, the final timetable for the next hearings has not been officially announced. At the previous case management conference, the judge scheduled "In heavy pencil" the two weeks between July 24 and August 7, albeit a final decision was not reached at that time. 

Recently, the European Union approved the deal including proposed remedies to level the competitive playing field on the cloud market, which Microsoft agreed to. A few weeks ago, we learned that the deal was approved by the Chinese authority, while earlier this week, South Korea's regulator also cleared the deal, bringing the number of countries that officially cleared the acquisition to 38.

This leaves the British CMA isolated in its stance against the deal, with the American FTC matching its opposition, but having to go through a legal process to actually be able to block it. 

In the meanwhile, a judge of the United States District Court Northern District of California denied the preliminary injunction requested against Microsoft in the so-called "gamers' lawsuit" which also aims to prevent the acquisition.

In an interview published a few days ago, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick mentioned that Microsoft is “by far the best place" for the publisher, adding that the acquisition is "the right thing for the industry."

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Giuseppe Nelva Profile Picture
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Started as News Editor at TechRaptor in January 2023, following over 20 years of professional experience in gaming journalism both on print media and on the… More about Giuseppe