The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has lost what may be its last attempt to stop Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard. It is the second loss for the FTC after a US federal judge denied its request for a preliminary injunction earlier this week to prevent Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard pending the conclusion of a separate FTC administrative case.
The FTC appealed Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley’s decision, and now the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied your request for emergency relief to prevent Microsoft from closing the deal until the outcome of the FTC’s appeal is complete.
This means that Microsoft is now free to close its deal with Activision Blizzard after a temporary restraining order, part of Judge Corley’s order, expires at 11:59pm PT tonight. Microsoft has until July 18 to close its deal; otherwise, it must renegotiate terms with Activision Blizzard or pay $3 billion in breakout fees.
However, Microsoft may not be able to close the deal immediately. There is still the complicated issue of the blocking of the deal in the UK. The UK Markets and Competition Authority blocked Microsoft’s deal earlier this year, citing competition fears in the emerging cloud gaming market. Both the CMA and Microsoft have agreed to halt their legal battles to figure out how the transaction could be modified to address the CMA’s concerns about cloud gaming.
The UK regulator also warned this week that Microsoft’s proposals may “lead to a new merger investigation” and that talks with Microsoft were at an early stage. The CMA also issued an extension notice for its general investigation into the deal today, moving the date for final commitments or a final order from July 18 to August 29.
The extension of the CMA arrives hours later Bloomberg reported that Microsoft is considering selling UK cloud gaming rights to a telecommunications, gaming or internet company to allow Activision’s UK deal to close.