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FTC Seeks to Halt Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Acquisition

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed for a temporary restraining order and injunction to prevent Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard. This move comes amid ongoing legal challenges to the proposed merger.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is petitioning US courts to halt Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard during the legal battle to block the merger. The FTC initially filed a legal challenge against Microsoft's proposed acquisition in December. It is now seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction from a US federal district court.

According to the FTC's complaint, "Both a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction are necessary because Microsoft and Activision have represented that they may consummate the proposed acquisition at any time."

The FTC lodged its complaint as Microsoft advances its appeal against the UK regulators' decision to block the proposed acquisition. The FTC's concern is that Microsoft may proceed with its acquisition, despite the UK block, ahead of the July 18th deal deadline.

Reports suggest that Microsoft is seriously considering closing the proposed acquisition despite the ongoing legal challenges and the CMA orders, according to the FTC complaint. Consequently, the FTC felt compelled to seek an injunction.

A US judge must now decide on issuing a temporary restraining order to stop Microsoft from closing the deal for two weeks and a preliminary injunction that would prevent Microsoft from closing until the result of the FTC's legal challenge. An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for August 2nd, shortly after Microsoft's appeal hearing.

If the FTC's injunction fails, Microsoft intends to expedite the FTC case. Brad Smith, Microsoft's vice chair and president, welcomed the chance to present their case in federal court, seeing this acceleration of the legal process as a positive development that will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick echoed this sentiment in an email to employees, framing Monday's actions as "a positive development in our merger progress" as it "accelerates the legal process."