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Former UK chancellor's advisory firm assisting with blocked Activision Blizzard deal

Former UK chancellor George Osborne has been a partner at Robey Warshaw since April 2021.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

June 9, 2023

2 Min Read
A photograph of Activision Blizzard's HQ

Activision Blizzard is working with UK advisory firm Robey Warshaw, which lists former chancellor George Osborne among its partners, on its proposed merger with Microsoft.

According to a Sky News report, Robey Warshaw is advising Activision Blizzard on the $68.7 billion takeover, which was recently blocked by UK regulator the CMA but managed to gain approval in the EU.

It's claimed the company is playing a "key" role and has been involved in the merger for some time. The Robey Warshaw website explains the company "provides clients with corporate finance advice, including assistance with strategic matters and corporate transactions."

Osborne, who served as the UK chancellor from 2010 to 2016, joined Robey Warshaw as a partner in 2021.

Robey Warshaw declined to comment on the move when approached by Sky. Game Developer has reached out to Activision Blizzard for more information on the company's role in the merger.

A helping hand for Activision?

Microsoft's colossal acquisition of Activision Blizzard is currently in limbo in the UK. The deal was blocked by the CMA earlier this year over concerns it would allow Microsoft to dominate the cloud gaming market, stifling innovation and harming consumers in the process.

The Xbox maker has since appealed the decision, with Microsoft's corporate VP Rima Ally suggesting the CMA's reasoning is "flawed for multiple reasons, including its overestimation of the role of cloud streaming in the gaming market and our position in it."

Microsoft president Brad Smith also said the company remains "fully committed" to the deal, and suggested the CMA has displayed a "flawed understanding" of the cloud gaming market.

"We remain fully committed to this acquisition and will appeal. The CMA's decision rejects a pragmatic path to address competition concerns and discourages technology innovation and investment in the United Kingdom," Smith wrote in April.

"We have already signed contracts to make Activision Blizzard's popular games available on 150 million more devices, and we remain committed to reinforcing these agreements through regulatory remedies. We're especially disappointed that after lengthy deliberations, this decision appears to reflect a flawed understanding of this market and the way the relevant cloud technology actually works."

Activision Blizzard, meanwhile, called the decision a "disservice to UK citizens, who face increasingly dire economic prospects," and indicated it would reassess its growth plans for the UK following the ruling.

"Global innovators large and small will take note that–despite all its rhetoric–the UK is clearly closed for business," added the Call of Duty publisher.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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