Former Labour council leader helped block biggest gaming deal in history

The lawyer who helped to quash Microsoft's $69bn (£55bn) takeover of Activision is a former Labour council leader and leading authority on competition law. Read More...
Martin Coleman - GOV.UK

Martin Coleman – GOV.UK

The lawyer who helped to quash Microsoft’s $69bn (£55bn) takeover of Activision is a former Labour council leader and leading authority on competition law.

Martin Coleman, a retired partner of top law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, has been a non-executive director at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) since 2017.

He was previously Norton Rose’s global head of antitrust and competition and once co-authored a book on the 1998 Competition Act.

Coleman was the Labour leader of Brent Council in the early 1980s – a time when it was sometimes branded one of London’s “loony left” authorities – and stood as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Northampton South in the 1983 general election.

In the same year, he was among council leaders who signed a letter published in Socialist Action magazine criticising “McCarthyite” sackings of workers at British Leyland’s Cowley plant “who are considered radical or socialist”. It is understood that he has not been a member of any political party for over 30 years.

As one of the CMA’s four inquiry chairmen, Coleman is responsible for leading independent panels that oversee merger inquiries, market investigations and regulatory appeals. HHe chaired the independent panel of experts that investigated the Microsoft-Activision deal.

Coleman previously chaired a panel that made the surprise decision to block the merger of airline software companies Sabre and Farelogix, despite them not having any direct UK customers. The CMA panel argued that the businesses’ software affected passengers flying in and out of the UK and said that a combination would hurt innovation.

Coleman has made clear that he is open to criticism from the companies he adjudicates.

Speaking to the Law Society last year, he said: “We expect parties to tell us when they think we are wrong and we expect them to tell us this in clear language.”

When it comes to Microsoft and Activision, that language is now likely to be expletive-ridden too.

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