As expected, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) gave notice Wednesday evening that it has filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit related to U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley’s rejection of a preliminary injunction against Microsoft’s proposed $69B USD acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
The agency vowed to continue to fight the acquisition through the appeal process following Judge Corley’s ruling. From the filing:
“Notice is hereby given that Plaintiff Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from this Court’s Opinion dated July 10, 2023 and entered on the Court’s docket on July 11, 2023 at ECF Docket Number 305 denying the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction pursuant to Federal Trade Commission Act § 13(b), 15 U.S.C. 53(b). “
FTC lawyers will now have to convince a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit that Corley’s ruling was a mistake, but the agency is fighting the clock as its temporary restraining order is set to expire on Friday, giving Microsoft and Activision Blizzard the freedom to move forward as the deadline for the deal comes up on July 18.
In her decision on Monday, Judge Corley noted that “…the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content. The motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore DENIED.”
Activision Blizzard and Microsoft still have to contend with approval in other regions such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Microsoft is already reportedly working with the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) behind the scenes in some capacity to resolve issues with the UK regulator.