The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly preparing to file an injunction aimed at blocking Microsoft’s pending $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The news comes less than two months after U.K. regulators blocked the Activision takeover, suggesting the FTC may take a similar stance on the deal.
Microsoft has been aggressively pushing its acquisition of Activision into regulators’ favor, with multiple 10-year partnerships with platforms including Nvidia, Nintendo, Ubitus, Boosteroid and EE. The company even chose to run a full-page newspaper ad for the Activision acquisition, hoping to get it approved. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, by April the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the deal, although the company has since appealed the regulator’s decision. Meanwhile, with the situation in the spotlight, the FTC appears to be preparing to take action of its own.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will file an injunction on Monday to block Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard, CNBC reported. With the injunction, the FTC hopes to prevent the deal from closing before the July 18 deadline. Commenting on the news, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company welcomed the opportunity to present its case in federal court. Smith further mentioned that Microsoft believes that “accelerating the legal process in the U.S. will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market.” It will be interesting to see how it performs.
By the way, the FTC sued back in December to block the Activision Blizzard acquisition. That means the case will go to its internal administrative law judge, with the case scheduled to be heard in August. Once a decision is made, Microsoft has the option to appeal the decision in federal court if it doesn’t do things the company’s way. The company has hinted that it may continue its deal with Activision Blizzard even without FTC approval. So it looks like the deal will end up in the hands of the federal courts sooner or later.
The EU has opted to approve the Activision deal under certain conditions, despite persistent opposition from agencies such as the CMA and FTC. As part of the agreement, Microsoft will be required to provide consumers in the European Economic Area with a free license for any Activision Blizzard game to be streamed through other game streaming services. The Microsoft president even confirmed that the company will implement the move globally, meaning any gamer could theoretically stream any Activision game through any game streaming service. In any case, it will be interesting to see how things go if the FTC’s injunction petition passes before the July 18 deadline.