The US Federal Trade Commission has requested a preliminary injunction against Microsoft‘s Activision Blizzard acquisition. This development seemingly adds to the growing list of concerns surrounding the $69 billion buyout offer, which have so far culminated with the UK’s decision to block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal in late April.


While the FTC already sued to block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition back in December 2022, that complaint alone does not prevent the transaction from going through. The FTC’s in-house court presiding over the case also lacks the authority to issue injunctions in such matters.

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This is why the agency has now requested both a restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the deal from a California federal court in San Francisco. The June 12 filing asks for Microsoft to be temporarily prohibited from closing the transaction. An injunction against Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard purchase would provide the FTC’s attorneys with enough time to bolster their case against the acquisition, the complaint reads. Microsoft President Brad Smith labeled this development as a positive sign for the acquisition, positing that moving the case to federal court will “accelerate the decision-making process” concerning the deal.

The competent court is expected to decide on this pending injunction request by Thursday, June 15. The FTC’s complaint advised urgency, arguing that without the injunction, the companies could consummate the deal “at any time” regardless of the regulatory roadblocks on both sides of the Atlantic. For context, Microsoft has technically been free to close the Activision Blizzard deal since late May. However, the tech giant is unlikely to attempt doing so until its appeal of the UK’s rejection of the acquisition has run its course. The first appellate hearing is scheduled for July 24, so a second-instance decision from London could arrive before summer’s end.

Be that as it may, this timetable still signals that Microsoft will likely be unable to close the acquisition prior to its mid-July deadline. And while Activision Blizzard will technically be entitled to a $3 billion breakup fee if it’s not a Microsoft subsidiary come July 18, the company is likely to agree to an extension with its suitor, not least because it repeatedly signaled its willingness to weather the regulatory storm spawned by the deal.

The $69 billion acquisition has so far been approved by dozens of countries the world over. Its latest regulatory nods arrived from the European Union, China, and South Korea. Australia and New Zealand previously delayed their decisions on the deal, presumably because they’re waiting to see how Microsoft’s clash with US and British regulators plays out.

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Source: FTC

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