On Monday, a federal judge rejected a preliminary injunction filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in June to block Microsoft’s proposed $69B USD acquisition of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzard.
In her decision, Judge Jacqueline Scott 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.”
Monday’s decision clears a major hurdle in completing the acquisition before the July 18 deadline, but Microsoft still has to deal with UK regulator the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), and federal regulators in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia—most other jurisdictions around the world have given their blessings. While Australia and New Zealand have not indicated which way they might go, Canada seemed to hint that it had concerns about the deal.
The FTC could seek an injunction in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to put Judge Corley’s decision aside as part of an appeal, but it is unclear if the agency will do that.
It looks like one of the biggest outstanding hurdles is the CMA, but the UK regulator issued the following statement to UK esports journalist Dom Sacco:
“We stand ready to consider any proposals from Microsoft to restructure the transaction in a way that would address the concerns set forth in our Final Report. In order to be able to prioritize work on these proposals, Microsoft and Activision have agreed with the CMA that a stay of litigation in the UK would be in the public interest and all parties have made a joint submission to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to this effect.”