Illustration of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard logos

Federal Court Restrains Microsoft From Buying Activision Blizzard

A federal court has imposed a temporary restraining order, preventing Microsoft from completing its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard – at least for the time being. On Monday, the FTC filed a complaint seeking the restraining order and a preliminary injunction, and the court consented to the restraining order while it evaluates the injunction. If the courts also grant the injunction, the FTC will have a chance to present its legal argument before any agreement is reached.

As a result of today’s order, Microsoft and Activision will be unable to finalise the acquisition 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 until the court sets a date (whichever is later). The court has also scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the preliminary injunction for June 22nd and 23rd, making it exceedingly unlikely that the sale will be completed this month.

“Accelerating the legal process in the US will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market,” Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy told The Verge in a statement. “A temporary restraining order is appropriate until we receive a decision from the Court, which is proceeding quickly.”

Microsoft and Activision disclosed the potential merger in January 2022, and it has received intense regulatory scrutiny in the months since. Although EU regulators authorised the acquisition in May, UK officials vetoed it in April (a judgement that Microsoft has challenged), and the FTC filed again in December to halt it.

Technically, the transaction is due to close by July 18th. If the agreement isn’t renegotiated to extend the deadline, Microsoft must pay a $3 billion breakup fee to Activision Blizzard.

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