The Federal Trade Commission is already in the books as opposed to Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard and filed an administrative complaint to formalize its objections back in December 2022, however, the regulatory body is doubling down with an additional injunction to the proposed deal.
While Microsoft and Activision Blizzard had previously stated they would like to close their acquisition deal by July 18, 2023, several outstanding issues will likely push any potential closing date well beyond that timeframe, one of which is its commencement hearing with FTC scheduled for August 2, 2023.
Leading up to their meeting, the FTC’s new injunction will act as a precautionary doorstop to Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision with a court order preventing the transaction from proceeding until after the FTC’s in-house court can rule on the deal.
While the FTC has not officially made the announcement, those familiar with the matter have spoken to media outlets including Bloomberg about plans in the works to make the deal injunction a reality soon.
The UK’s Competiton and Markets Authority regulatory body filed a similar injunction but did so after issuing an official block to the deal in the area. The CMA’s injunction is intended to prevent the deal from proceeding in any market until Microsoft gets written consent from the regulatory body, despite it already issuing a block to the deal on the basis of “reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers.”
Microsoft has already started the process of an appeal to the CMA’s decision and is expecting a decision by the end of Summer at the latest.
The FTCs new chess move will put the Microsoft acquisition in front of a federal judge much sooner where the magistrate can appeal to the Commission for a vote or allow Microsoft an early federal courts appeal process starting in August if the deal is in fact blocked by the FTC.
The FTC and CMA seem to be on the same page fearing the potential outcomes from a Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard despite almost every other global regulatory body granting the deal provisional approvals. With both an active appeals process going on in the UK and the upcoming battle in the US with the FTC and potentially its internal injunction court, Microsoft lawyers have an active summer calendar in the books this year.
Update: Microsoft vice chair and president responded to the FTCs proposed injunction with the following,
We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court. We believe accelerating the legal process in the U.S. will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market. – Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President