Jun 12, 2023 - Technology

FTC to file restraining order to block Microsoft, Activision deal

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Federal Trade Commission plans to seek a temporary restraining order from a federal district court to block Microsoft from completing its $68.7 billion proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, per a source familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: Microsoft wants to close the acquisition before a July 18 termination deadline, and the FTC seeks to prevent a closing because deals are a lot harder to unwind after they're completed. An August trial is set for the FTC's challenge of the deal.

Flashback: The FTC first moved to block the deal last December.

  • "Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals," Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, said at the time.
  • "We seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets."

What they're saying: "We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court. We believe accelerating the legal process in the U.S. will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market," Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, said in a statement.

The big picture: The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority vetoed the deal in April (Microsoft is appealing that decision), while the European Union approved the merger in May.

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