A judge in San Francisco has rejected the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) motion for a preliminary injunction to halt Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. However, the deal still faces challenges as the FTC can appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and Microsoft and Activision Blizzard need to address opposition from the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom.
Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley stated that the court’s responsibility was to determine whether the merger should be halted pending the resolution of the FTC’s administrative action. She concluded that the FTC had not demonstrated a likelihood of success in showing that the merger would substantially lessen competition in the industry. The motion for a preliminary injunction was therefore denied.
Following the court’s decision, Activision Blizzard’s shares reached a session and 52-week high, while Microsoft expressed gratitude for the ruling and hoped for timely resolutions in other jurisdictions. Both companies emphasized their commitment to addressing regulatory concerns and expressed optimism about gaining regulatory approval globally.
The decision came after several days of court hearings to assess whether Microsoft could proceed with its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The FTC argued that Microsoft may make certain games exclusive, limiting their availability on other platforms, while Microsoft maintained its intention to make Activision’s titles more widely accessible. The judge also modified the temporary restraining order previously imposed, with it set to expire on July 14 unless the FTC obtains a stay pending appeal from the 9th Circuit.
The focus now shifts to resolving concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are considering modifications to the transaction to address those concerns, and they have jointly submitted a request for a stay of litigation in the UK to prioritize working on proposals that would be acceptable to the CMA.