Judge temporarily blocks Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision

A federal judge late Tuesday approved a request by the Federal Trade Commission to temporarily block Microsoft Corp.’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order in order to “maintain the status quo,” and set a evidentiary hearing to be held June 22-23 on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued.

The deal was set to be finalized as soon as this Friday. Tuesday’s order said the deal may not close until at least five days after the court’s preliminary injunction ruling.

The acquisition has raised antitrust concerns that Microsoft
with its Xbox gaming console, could withhold hit Activision Blizzard

videogame franchises such as “Call of Duty” and “Overwatch” from competing console platforms.

On Monday, the FTC filed for a restraining order and injunction to block the deal, arguing “a preliminary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and prevent interim harm to competition.”

“This loss of competition would likely result in significant harm to consumers in multiple markets at a pivotal time for the industry,” the FTC said in its filing Monday.

In a statement Tuesday evening, a Microsoft spokesperson said: “Accelerating the legal process in the U.S will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market. A temporary restraining order makes sense until we can receive a decision from the court, which is moving swiftly.” 

While EU regulators approved the deal in May, British regulators have tentatively scheduled appeal hearings after saying in April they would prohibit the purchase.

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