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Ruling Speeds the Resolution of Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard

Posted June 14, 2023 | Activision Blizzard | Games | Microsoft | Mobile gaming | PC gaming | Playstation | Project Xcloud | Windows | Xbox

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request to temporarily block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. But as Microsoft and Activision Blizzard both note, the FTC’s decision to move the case into the federal court system is good for the two companies, as it will speed up the legal process.

“The Court, having read and considered the temporary restraining order (TRO), finds that temporary is necessary to maintain the status quo while the Complaint is pending, preserve this Court’s ability to order effective relief in the event it determines a preliminary injunction is warranted, and preserve the FTC’s ability to obtain an effective permanent remedy in the event that it prevails in its pending administrative proceeding,” the ruling notes. “Microsoft and Activision shall not close or consummate their proposed transaction or a substantially similar transaction until after 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the fifth business day after the Court rules on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction or a date set by the Court, whichever is later, and Microsoft and Activision shall prevent any of their officers, directors, domestic or foreign agents, divisions, subsidiaries, affiliates, partnerships, or joint ventures from closing or consummating, directly or indirectly, the proposed transaction or a substantially similar transaction.”

The FTC filed an emergency motion to prevent Microsoft and Activision Blizzard from merging on Monday, having learned that the two companies might move to push the acquisition through ahead of the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year on June 30. But this change means that Microsoft can appeal the FTC’s block of the merger earlier than before: now, the two sides will face off in court next week, on June 22 and 23, or about two months earlier than the previous schedule.

“Accelerating the legal process in the U.S. will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market,” a Microsoft spokesperson told me. “A temporary restraining order makes sense until we can receive a decision from the Court, which is moving swiftly.”

“This is a welcome update and one that accelerates the legal process,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick wrote in an email to employees. “We will now have the opportunity to more quickly present the facts about our merger … Our excellent legal team has been preparing for this move for more than a year, and we’re ready to present our case to a federal judge who can evaluate the transaction on the merits. The facts are on our side.”

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