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Microsoft Blocked From Buying Activision For Now, As Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order

It's unlikely Microsoft will be able to close the deal in June--but the move has sped up the legal process as Microsoft anticipated.


A federal court has issued a restraining order that will prevent Microsoft from completing its acquisition of Activision Blizzard until it can consider a preliminary injunction requested by the US Federal Trade Commission, The Verge reports.

While the FTC is attempting to stop Microsoft from finalizing its deal before the deadline of July 18, Microsoft stated that the injunction was a good thing, as it would speed up the legal process.

The restraining order means Microsoft can't complete its acquisition of Activision until "after 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the fifth business day after the Court rules on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction." If the injuction is also granted at that time, it means that the FTC will be able to argue its case in court before Microsoft is able to complete its deal.

A number of dates have been set under the current court order: Microsoft and Activision need to submit their response to the injunction by June 16, the FTC needs to reply to that by June 20, and a hearing on the preliminary injunction will take place on June 22 and 23. With the restraining order in place, this means Microsoft will be unlikely to complete its deal in June.

Microsoft isn't worried (at least publicly) about the injunction, however, with company president Brad Smith 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."

Microsoft also issued a statement in response to the restraining order, saying: "Accelerating the legal process in the U.S will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market. A temporary restraining order makes sense until we can receive a decision from the Court, which is moving swiftly."

The UK's CMA has blocked the merger, with the decision now being appealed by both Microsoft and Activision. Other global regulatory bodies including the EU have approved the deal.

Under its current deal, Microsoft has to close its acquisition by July 18 or risk paying Activision Blizzard a $3 billion breakup fee.

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