Activision Blizzard Hires Big Shot Lawyer to Appeal U.K’s Block of Microsoft Deal: Report


  • Activision Blizzard has hired one of the U.K.’s best lawyers to appeal the U.K. competition regulator’s block of its buyout deal with Microsoft.
  • Microsoft and Activision will individually challenge the decision before the U.K.’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
  • Unturned, the block could prove fatal for the $68.7 billion USD Microsoft-Activision deal.

Activision Blizzard has contracted legal whiz Lord David Pannick KC to lead its case against the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)’s decision to block the video game publisher’s $68.7 billion USD (approximately $93.6 billion CAD) buyout deal with Microsoft —  reports the Financial Times.

Last month, the U.K. competition regulator voted to block the proposed Microsoft-Activision transaction, dealing a potentially fatal blow to the would-be largest deal in gaming industry history.

Microsoft slammed the decision as being “bad for Britain,” while Activision CEO Bobby Kotick promised to push the deal through, chiding that the CMA’s decision was a sign that the U.K. was “clearly closed for business.” Both merger hopefuls are set to individually challenge the block before the U.K.’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).

Pannick, who hails from Blackstone Chambers, will helm Activision Blizzard’s appeal. The barrister has handled several high-level cases — in both the U.K. and internationally — over a career spanning more than four decades. His clients have included the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and business tycoon Roland “Tiny” Rowland. He also advised former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the “partygate” probes.

Pannick is widely seen as one of the top barristers of his generation. The latest Chambers UK legal guide describes him as an “outstanding public law silk” who has handled the “most significant high profile human rights cases before domestic, European and international courts” over the past 20 years.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has hired Daniel Beard KC, a top competition barrister, to represent its interests at the Tribunal.

In its review, the UK’s CAT will seek to determine whether the CMA’s decision was lawful by analyzing the agency’s decision-making procedures. According to legal experts, the bar for challenges such as those brought by Microsoft and Activision is relatively high.

The Microsoft-Activision deal also awaits approval in the EU, where it is widely expected to get the green light, and the U.S., where the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) previously asked a judge to block the merger outright.

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