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UK CMA head says the ball is in Microsoft's court to resolve the Activision Blizzard dispute

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This week, Microsoft got some more time to complete its planned $69 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. Both companies agreed to extend the deadline to close the purchase to October 18.

Right now, the only hurdle towards completing the deal is convincing the UK Competition and Markets Authority to approve the deai. The CMA decided in late April to block the acquisition, claiming the deal would give Microsoft an unfair competitive advantage in cloud gaming services.

Microsoft filed for an appeal with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, but this week the CAT agreed provisionally to pause that process. The CMA has also decided to delay its own final order on the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard investigation until August 29.

All of this means Microsoft now has a few more weeks to get the CMA to change their minds. However, in a new interview broadcast on Sky News today, Sarah Cardell, the chief executive at the Competition and Markets Authority, made it clear that Microsoft must make the next move to solve this issue.

The interview, which begins talking about the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard deal at the 4:08 mark, has Cardell defending the CMA's decision to give Microsoft a second chance:

I say we certainly haven't compromised. Our decision to prohibit the deal stands. We understand from Microsoft that they would like to put forward proposals to us to restructure the deal, potentially re-notifying that deal to address our competition concerns. If they do that we will consider those restructured proposals carefully but anything that they put forward to us will need to fully and comprehensively resolve our concerns. Our position on that hasn't changed.

Cardell also confirmed that, at the time of the interview, the CMA has yet to see any kind of revised deal:

So we're waiting for those proposals to come to us. We've agreed with Microsoft a stay on the litigation which means that we can focus on understanding whether it is possible for them to provide a restructure that addresses our concerns. The ball is very much in their court at the moment.

Based on Cardell's comments, it sounds like the CMA is not going to just agree to anything in order to get its approval for Microsoft's plan. The next several weeks should be very interesting.

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