FTC Secures Restraining Order Against Microsoft, Halting Deal
In the latest episode of the ‘Activision Aquisition’ saga, a federal court in the United States has issued a TRO – a Temporary Restraining Order – against Microsoft. This effectively prevents any kind of deal moving forward and freezes in place the $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision – arguably one of the most beleaguered transactions of its kind in the history of gaming.
Following a complaint that was officially logged by the FTC – the Federal Trade Commission – a restraining order and preliminary injunction were filed against Microsoft (as per The Verge), backed by a federal court. Should the next steps be achieved for the FTC, it will have a chance to plead a legal case before a court, doing further damage to a deal that has been well and truly dragged through the wringer.
Activision Makes Money Regardless
It’s now a race against the clock to gain traction, defeat the courts, and if necessary, renegotiate the deal to extend the window in which Microsoft can actually acquire Activision. There’s a deadline of July 18th, 2023 – and if that isn’t hit without a negotiation to extend it, Microsoft’s plans will fall through and Activision will be owed a ‘break-up fee’ worth $3 billion.
Despite many countries around the world approving the acquisition, some nations and their regulatory bodies are dragging their feet in monumental fashion – particularly those in the United Kingdom and the United States. Since Microsoft announced its intentions to acquire Activision Blizzard King in January 2022, it has faced strong pushback from some of the most powerful governing bodies in the world, some of them all too eager to act in a litigious fashion.
At the heart of the decision to raise an injunction against Microsoft sits the concern that the tech titan may act on its acquisition despite some regulators blocking the deal, as per the FTC filing:
Until recently, Defendants indicated that they would not complete the proposed acquisition unless and until they received clearance from European regulators, including in proceedings before this Court in a private case challenging the proposed acquisition. Press reports began circulating suggesting that Defendants were seriously contemplating closing the proposed acquisition despite the pending administrative litigation and the CMA orders.
If successful, the Microsoft x Activision Blizzard acquisition would be the biggest of its kind in the history of gaming, and the fear is that it’ll mark a ‘loss of competition’ for the industry at large. There can be no doubt that it’d put some pretty powerful weapons in Microsoft’s gaming arsenal, but already-inked pledges seem to suggest that there is no interest in making certain franchises – like Call of Duty – unique to Microsoft-backed platforms.
In a few days, we’ll know what the next steps are in this almighty saga.