LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) – Microsoft’s ( MSFT.O ) appeal against Britain’s ban on its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard ( ATVI.O ) was formally suspended by a London tribunal on Monday. Controversy
Microsoft, Activision and Britain’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), requested a two-month stay on the case after the CMA said it would consider a modified deal proposed by Microsoft.
The Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAD) on Monday decided to adjourn the full hearing on Microsoft’s appeal, which was scheduled to begin on July 28.
In April the CMA became the first major regulator to block a takeover of the “Call of Duty” maker, citing concerns about the impact of competition on cloud gaming.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also opposed the deal, but suffered a major setback last week when a federal court rejected the FTC’s application to temporarily halt the deal.
In Britain, the CMA’s final report is usually the last word. Companies cannot provide solutions after its release and their only recourse is CAT.
But last week, within an hour of a US federal court ruling that the deal could go ahead, the CMA said it would revisit the revised plan. It later said a revised deal could satisfy its concerns subject to a fresh investigation.
All parties applied to the CAT for a two-month suspension of the case, which the CMA’s lawyers said in court filings would “allow the CMA and the parties to engage expeditiously and constructively on Microsoft’s proposals.”
David Bailey, a lawyer representing the CMA, told the tribunal that the FTC’s initial failure “formed no part of the CMA’s thinking”.
He added: “Based on discussions to date, both parties – Microsoft and the CMA – are confident that Microsoft’s announcement of a restructured transaction has the potential to address the concerns identified by the CMA.”
Microsoft’s lawyer Daniel Beard said: “The UK is the only obstacle to closing (the deal) and speed is of the essence.”
Report by Sam Tobin; Editing by Josie Cao and Sharon Singleton
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