Following the halt of Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision/Blizzard, both companies have vowed to appeal the decision from the UK’s CMA (Competition and Market Authority) board. And now, Activision has taken the first big step forward by hiring a lawyer who previously handled cases for the UK Parliament and Queen Elizabeth II to represent the appeal.
As reported by Florian Mueller, the legal advisor — whose full title is Lord David Pannick KC (King’s Council) — will represent the appeal for Activision/Blizzard to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). Microsoft also plans to proceed with a parallel appeal with UK lawyer Daniel Beard KC handling the case.
This news comes a full two weeks following the sudden and surprising halt to Microsoft’s plans to acquire Activision/Blizzard’s various studios and its IPs. Before the CMA’s decision, the acquisition gained traction over its yearlong examination from global agencies following the announcement in January 2022.
Pannick has served as a lawyer in the legal field for several decades and is seen as one of the UK’s most prominent figures in the legal field. Previously, Pannick has taken on clients such as Boris Johnson during the infamous “Partygate” scandal during the COVID-19 pandemic and handled cases for Queen Elizabeth II during her later years. Currently, the legal advisor works at the Blackstone Chambers, which specializes in cases in the field of commerce and government. This move to bring on Pannick from Activision shows that this appeal will likely see an extended period of discourse and debate for the foreseeable future.
‘A disappointing decision’
The decision to halt the massive acquisition was a result of the CMA finding that Microsoft’s market advantage in cloud computing and how the addition of Activision/Blizzard and its vast library of popular games would lead to an unfair advantage against competitors. Following the announcement from the CMA, Activision/Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick voiced his outrage at the decision, stating that the UK was “clearly closed for business.”
Recently, Xbox Game Studios CEO Phil Spencer stated in an interview with Kinda Funny’s XCast that it was was “disappointing” decision.
BREAKING #ActivisionBlizzard $ATVI has hired an ultra-high-profile UK lawyer to help lead the @CATribunal appeal of the @CMAgovUK merger-blocking decision:
Lord David Pannick KC (KC = King’s Counsel)
His clients include(d), among others,
– Queen Elizabeth II,
– former Prime…
— Florian Mueller (@FOSSpatents) May 9, 2023
“The CMA decision was disappointing,” he said. “I’ve been talking to that group for coming up on a year. They’ve defined a market of cloud gaming that in my mind doesn’t really exist yet today, but they have a point of view that maybe we have a lead in a market that is just forming and that this content could somehow prohibit others from competing in that market.”
The appeals from both Activision/Blizzard and Microsoft will be heard by the CAT, which will then decide if the CMA’s decision to halt the acquisition was lawful. Previously, the CMA made a motion to the Meta company, that it had to sell the image/social media site Giphy, which the company lost an appeal to.
For more information about the CMA’s decision to halt the acquisition, be sure to read our explainer detailing what we learned. Be sure to stick with IGN as more details come to light.
Alessandro Fillari is a contributing writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @afillari.
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Author: Alessandro Fillari