The planned takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is now encountering what appears to be the biggest of the many obstacles so far: in the USA, a court has prohibited the deal for the moment at the request of the competent authority.
Microsoft had actually announced in January 2022 that it wanted to buy publisher Activision Blizzard along with the associated brands and developer studios for a whopping 68.7 billion US dollars, but the deal is still a year and a half later. That’s because a number of antitrust authorities around the world have to approve the size of the deal – and Microsoft is certainly facing greater obstacles in doing so.
While a number of countries have meanwhile waved the planned purchase through, the responsible CMA in Great Britain resented a few weeks ago and refused approval. But now things are getting even worse for Microsoft, because the American FTC is now really serious and wants to prevent the takeover.
After a lengthy trial and evaluation of the deal’s implications, the FTC recently filed a request for an injunction barring the takeover deal until further notice; A little later, a court in the United States has already granted this application, which is preventing Microsoft and Activision Blizzard from completing the purchase by court order for the time being. At the same time, the court has scheduled an evidence hearing for June 22-23. As a result, the saga surrounding the takeover, which has now been going on for months, is not expected to end this month.
July 18 of this year was once set as the deadline for completing the deal; this date is getting closer and closer. If the purchase is not completed by then, Microsoft will have to negotiate an extension with Activision Blizzard, otherwise Redmond-based Activision Blizzard will owe a whopping $3 billion in damages for breach of contract.
Microsoft had already made a statement when the FTC’s application became known and was nevertheless optimistic about the conclusion of the process. President Brad Smith said that the decision-making processes would now be accelerated and “ultimately everyone will benefit from this”. It had also previously been suspected that Microsoft might be able to complete and carry out the deal even without the FTC’s approval – this is now off the table as a result of the court decision.
However, the next few weeks should bring more clarity – also with regard to the pending proceedings in Great Britain with the CMA. Microsoft has already lodged an objection there; a hearing is scheduled for July 24 – but that is after the actual deadline. However, the EU had recently approved the purchase.