Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has overcome its final hurdle. The US Federal court has denied the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request to halt the $69 billion purchase, marking a significant milestone in the history of tech acquisitions.
The FTC had previously sought a preliminary injunction to halt the sale while an internal FTC judge evaluated it. However, the judge dismissed the FTC’s concerns, stating that the agency had failed to establish that the transaction would violate antitrust law. The FTC’s appeal of this decision was also opposed by Microsoft, further solidifying the tech giant’s position.
The FTC’s request for a court order to delay the closure of the purchase until the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided a separate stay motion was also denied. This decision came just in time, as a temporary restraining order on the transaction was set to expire shortly before midnight on Friday.
Despite the FTC’s continued efforts to delay the acquisition, Microsoft remains steadfast. Microsoft President Brad Smith expressed disappointment at the FTC’s persistence in pursuing what he termed a “demonstrably weak case.” He affirmed Microsoft’s intention to oppose further efforts to delay the acquisition’s progress.
The FTC’s application to Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley for a pause was met with a denial. The judge stated that her denial of a preliminary injunction to stop the sale “raises serious, substantial issues for the Court of Appeals to resolve.” However, the motion was denied, allowing Microsoft’s acquisition to proceed.
The FTC had criticized the judge’s assessment of the deal’s impact on multi-game subscriptions and the amount of credit she gave Microsoft for reaching agreements with competitors to keep the planned transaction alive. Despite these criticisms, the judge stood firm on her decision.
To alleviate the FTC’s concerns, Microsoft had agreed to license “Call of Duty” to rivals, including a 10-year deal with Nintendo. However, this agreement was conditional on the merger going through. Up until last week, the deal — the biggest in video gaming history — was having trouble in Britain as well.
With the court’s decision, any unresolved regulatory impediment increases the likelihood that Microsoft and Activision’s agreement will expire on July 18 without the acquisition being completed. Unless an extension is negotiated, either company will be free to leave after July 18.