A federal court has issued a temporary restraining order barring Microsoft from closing — at least for now — the $68.7 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint Monday to get the restraining order and a preliminary injunction and the court made an appointment to the restraining order while considering that order. If the courts also approve the order, the FTC would have a chance to file its lawsuit before a deal can be made.
As a result of today’s injunction, Microsoft and Activision will not be able to complete the acquisition 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” or upon an the court-set date (whichever is later). The court also held a hearing on the preliminary injunction on June 22 and 23, so it is extremely unlikely that these companies will complete the transaction this month.
“Speeding up the legal process in the US will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market,” Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy said in a statement to The edge. “A temporary restraining order makes sense until we can receive a decision from the court, which is swift.”
Microsoft and Activision announced the planned acquisition in January 2022, and it has faced massive regulatory scrutiny in the months since. While EU regulators approved the deal in May, UK regulators blocked the deal in April (a decision that Microsoft has appealed) and the FTC sued in December in another attempt to block the deal.
Technically, the deal should close before a July 18 deadline. If the deal is not renegotiated to extend that deadline, Microsoft will be required to pay Activision Blizzard a $3 billion cancellation fee.
Update June 13, 10:04 PM ET: Microsoft statement added.