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Microsoft wants to take over Activision Blizzard. A US court stopped the deal

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It will be the largest merger in the history of the industry. Microsoft is trying to acquire Activision Blizzard, a giant that produces world-renowned games, for almost $70 billion. On Tuesday, a U.S. judge granted the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request to temporarily stop the transaction and scheduled a hearing for next week, Reuters reported.

Over the last 10 years, Microsoft has purchased several smaller and larger gaming companies. In 2014, it acquired Mojang and thus the Minecraft brand. For a year and a half, the American technology giant has been looking for Activision Blizzard. In early 2022, it made an offer of approximately $69 billion – it would be the largest acquisition in the history of the industry.

Read also: Two huge obstacles on the way to a record acquisition >>>

Microsoft wants to take over Activision Blizzard – court decision

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District Judge Edward Davila scheduled a two-day evidentiary hearing on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction for June 22-23 in San Francisco. Without a court order, Microsoft could close a deal worth about $69 billion as early as Friday, Reuters reported.

The agency explained that the FTC asked an administrative judge to block the transaction in early December 2022, citing antitrust law enforcement. The evidentiary hearing in the administrative proceedings is scheduled to start on August 2.

Based on a hearing in late June, a federal court will decide whether a preliminary injunction is required to remain in effect during the administrative review of the case. The FTC applied for a temporary hold on the takeover on Monday.

Davila said the interim injunction issued on Tuesday was “essential to maintain the status quo while the complaint is being considered,” Reuters reported. She added that Microsoft and Activision must present legal arguments opposing the preliminary injunction by June 16; The FTC must respond by June 20.

Activision said Monday that the FTC’s decision to go to federal court was a “welcome update that speeds up the legal process.” The company, however, declined to comment on Tuesday. In turn, Microsoft said on Tuesday that “accelerating the legal process in USA ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market.” The FTC, however, declined to comment, Reuters reported.

The FTC argued that the deal would give Microsoft’s Xbox game console exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo and Sony’s PlayStation consoles in the cold.

Microsoft’s bid to take over the “Call of Duty” video game maker was approved by the EU in May, but UK competition authorities blocked the takeover in April. Microsoft said the deal would benefit both gamers and gaming companies, and offered to sign a legally binding executive order agreeing with the FTC to supply “Call of Duty” games to rivals, including Sony, for a decade, Reuters reported.

This case reflects the firm approach to antitrust enforcement adopted by the US Presidential Administration Joe Biden Reuters pointed out.

Main photo source: ALDECA studio/Shutterstock

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