SAN FRANCISCO — A $69 billion deal by Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard is on hold…for now.
According to MarketWatch, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) in San Francisco over regulatory reasons. The approved request, which came from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), was a “maintain the status quo” decision.
An evidentiary hearing will be heard next week to determine whether there will be a preliminary injunction approval.
With FTC approval, the deal would have gone public as of Friday. Tuesday’s TRO means the deal is now delayed by at least five days pending a court ruling
The acquisition is raising antitrust concerns that Microsoft could withhold Activision Blizzard’s video game franchises from competing platforms. Game franchises like Call of Duty and Overwatch are currently on all gaming console platforms, including Microsoft’s Xbox console.
The FTC filed for a restraining order and injunction Monday to block the deal.
“A preliminary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and prevent interim harm to competition,” the FTC states in its preliminary arguments in the filing. “This loss of competition would likely result in significant harm to consumers in multiple markets at a pivotal time for the industry.”
Microsoft executive makes brief remarks on TRO
Microsoft did not immediately respond late Tuesday when asked for comment. However, a Microsoft executive made remarks after the filing Monday.
“We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court,” said Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith. “We believe accelerating the legal process in the U.S. will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market.”
European Union regulators greenlit the deal last month. Meanwhile, United Kingdom regulators are tentatively scheduling appeal hearings in April, stating they would block the purchase.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.