Activision intervenes in Microsoft’s challenge to UK regulator blockade

LONDON (Reuters) – “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard has been granted permission to intervene in Microsoft’s legal battle with Britain’s antitrust regulator over its decision to block the $69 billion takeover.

Microsoft is appealing the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to veto the deal, which it did in April on the grounds that it could harm competition in the market emerging from cloud gaming.

The shock decision jeopardizes the biggest ever gaming deal and has prompted a furious response from companies, who have questioned whether Britain remains open to tech companies.

Activision has now been granted leave to intervene in Microsoft’s appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which is expected to be heard next month. This means that Activision will also be able to make its case in court.

At a preliminary hearing in May, Microsoft lawyers accused the CMA of being a global “outlier” for blocking the Activision takeover, which was approved by regulators, including the authority of the competition from the European Union.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission also blocked the deal, a decision Microsoft is appealing.

Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith, who met Britain’s finance minister on Tuesday for talks, said earlier this week the company wanted to address regulators’ concerns over the Activision acquisition.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; editing by William James)

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