Microsoft Given All-Clear In The US To Acquire Activision Blizzard

Update #2: Microsoft Cleared to Acquire Activision Blizzard in the US

[Sat 15th Jul, 2023 04:30 BST] The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has lost its appeal and has been denied injunctive relief, allowing Microsoft to move forward with its acquisition of Activision Blizzard in the United States. The deadline for the deal is set for July 18th, and Microsoft is expected to complete the acquisition soon. This also means that Microsoft’s plan to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms is back on track.

Microsoft’s vice chair and president, Brad Smith, expressed appreciation for the Ninth Circuit’s swift response in denying the FTC’s motion to further delay the Activision deal. Smith described it as a step closer to the finish line in the global regulatory reviews marathon.

In the UK, Microsoft is still working with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which extended its deadline from July 18th to August 29th. It seems that both parties are likely to find a resolution.

Update #1: FTC Appeals California Judge’s Ruling on Microsoft’s Acquisition

[Thu 13th Jul, 2023 10:00 BST] The conflict surrounding Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard continues as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) files an appeal against a California judge’s denial of a preliminary injunction against the deal. The reason behind the appeal has not been disclosed and will likely remain unknown until it is submitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The FTC may request an emergency stay to extend the existing temporary restraining order, which is set to expire on July 14th.

Microsoft president Brad Smith expressed disappointment with the FTC’s decision to appeal, stating that it is a weak case:

“Yesterday the Court ruled our acquisition of Activision Blizzard should proceed, and we oppose any further delay.”

No guarantee exists that the appeal will be resolved before the July 18th deadline, which means Microsoft may still be able to complete the acquisition next week. Nasdaq’s announcement that Activision Blizzard would be removed from the Nasdaq-100 ESG Index on July 17th indicates that Microsoft’s preparations are well underway. This development could add pressure on Microsoft to reach an agreement with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, which currently opposes the deal.

Acquisition Approved in the US, Still Blocked in the UK

[Tue 11th Jul, 2023 17:35 BST] A California judge has denied the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction against Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, allowing the deal to proceed in the US. However, the deal remains blocked in the UK until Microsoft can appeal the Competition and Markets Authority’s decision on July 28th. Microsoft must either close the deal without the UK or negotiate with the CMA, now that both the US and the EU have approved the acquisition.

Microsoft president Brad Smith expressed gratitude to the court for the ruling and stated that the company disagrees with the CMA’s position. Microsoft is considering modifying the transaction to address the CMA’s concerns.

Although the deal is not finalized, it appears that Microsoft is gaining momentum. The outcome of the FTC’s appeal could influence the CMA’s decision. Feel free to share your thoughts on whether the CMA will change its stance or if the debate will endure.