FTC’s Final Attempt to Stop Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard Denied by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Microsoft Cleared to Proceed with Activision Blizzard Acquisition by US Court

In a significant victory for Microsoft, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request for emergency relief to prevent the tech giant from acquiring Activision Blizzard. This development comes after the FTC’s failed attempt to block the acquisition through a preliminary injunction earlier this week, as ruled by US federal judge Jacqueline Scott Corley.

The FTC’s appeal, which sought to halt the deal until the conclusion of the agency’s administrative case against Microsoft, was swiftly turned down by the appellate court. As a result, Microsoft is now free to complete its acquisition of Activision Blizzard once a temporary restraining order, set to expire at 11:59 PM PT tonight, is lifted. The tech giant has until July 18th to finalize the deal, failing which it may need to renegotiate terms or pay a staggering $3 billion in breakup fees.

However, Microsoft’s path to full acquisition is not without obstacles. The deal has already been blocked in the UK by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), citing concerns regarding competition in the emerging cloud gaming market. Both Microsoft and the CMA have agreed to pause their legal battles and explore potential modifications to address the regulatory body’s reservations about the transaction.

The UK regulator recently warned that Microsoft’s proposals might lead to a new merger investigation, signaling that discussions with the tech giant are still in the early stages. In a related development, the CMA has extended its overall investigation into the deal, pushing back the date for final undertakings or a final order from July 18th to August 29th.

Hours after the CMA’s extension was announced, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft is considering selling UK cloud-gaming rights to a telecommunications, gaming, or internet company. This move would presumably pave the way for the completion of the Activision deal in the UK.

The outcome of the US court’s decision is a significant win for Microsoft, as it removes a major roadblock in its pursuit of the gaming giant. Nevertheless, the company still faces challenges in the UK, where its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard remains in limbo. As negotiations continue and potential modifications are explored, the final shape of the deal and Microsoft’s foothold in the global gaming market still hang in the balance.

With its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft aims to bolster its gaming division and position itself as a dominant player in the industry. The deal, valued at nearly $70 billion, would grant Microsoft ownership of beloved gaming franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush.