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US Judge Temporarily Blocks Microsoft Activision-Blizzard Deal Following FTC Motion

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Microsoft Activision-Blizzard FTC

A judge has temporarily blocked the Microsoft Activision-Blizzard megadeal after the FTC filed for a preliminary injunction earlier this week.

As said, due to concerns over Microsoft potentially closing the highly-debated merger with Activision-Blizzard ahead of the closing deadline next month, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a motion to temporarily block the deal. The United States District Court has now temporarily blocked the deal while the order is being considered. As ruled by the judge in this case, this is necessary in order to "maintain the status quo while the Complaint is pending, preserve this Court’s ability to order effective relief in the event it determines a preliminary injunction is warranted, and preserve the FTC’s ability to obtain an effective permanent remedy in the event that it prevails in its pending administrative proceeding", the official document from the court reads.

Pending the temporary block, the court is now considering the injunction, and if granted, the FTC can be allowed to make its case before the deal between Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard closes.

The Court has set an evidentiary hearing on the injunction for next week on June 22 and June 23. Ahead of this hearing, Microsoft and Activision can submit their brief in opposition to the motion for the injunction by June 16. Afterward, the FTC is allowed to submit its reaction by June 20.

As ruled by the judge, the restraining order prohibits Microsoft and Activision from closing the merger or a "substantially similar transaction until after 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the fifth
business day after the Court rules", on the FTC's motion, or a "date set by the Court, whatever is later."

In addition, Microsoft and Activision are required to "prevent any of their officers, directors, domestic or foreign agents, divisions, subsidiaries, affiliates, partnerships, or joint ventures from
closing or consummating, directly or indirectly, the proposed transaction or a substantially similar transaction."

Speaking to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson commented on the temporary block and said that a restraining order makes sense. "Accelerating the legal process in the US will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market,” the Microsoft spokesperson said. “A temporary restraining order makes sense until we can receive a decision from the Court, which is moving swiftly.”

As always, we will keep you updated on the planned merger between Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard. Back in April of this year, UK regulator CMA blocked the deal, but the European Commission (EU regulator) approved the deal a month later.

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