Update 4/26: The CMA has just announced that it has prevented Microsoft from purchasing Activision. It’s unclear how this will impact Microsoft’s stated plan to close the deal without FTC approval.
Original story follows.
With the tides apparently turning in favor of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, it’s now believed that the gaming giant may proceed with the deal even without the blessing of the FTC. The US Federal Trade Commission was one of the first opponents of the $68.7 billion acquisition when it was announced in January 2022, and US lawmakers like Bernie Sanders praised the FTC’s immediate attempt to block the Activision Blizzard deal.
Since then, it’s seemingly been an uphill battle for Microsoft to prove that the proposed acquisition, which would by far be the largest in gaming to date, would not break antitrust laws or otherwise harm consumers. So far, a number of countries have approved the Activision Blizzard deal, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Serbia, Chile, Japan, and South Africa. And the UK’s CMA is expected to announce support for the acquisition soon, which would be particularly noteworthy because that agency has been very open about its doubts and ensuing investigation.
Microsoft is also expecting approval of the acquisition from the European Commission sometime next month. With those two major agencies on Microsoft’s side, it’s expected that the company may move forward with the deal, with or without the FTC onboard. A pre-trial hearing with the FTC and Microsoft took place on January 3, 2023, and during the call, Microsoft’s lawyer Beth Wilkinson stated that, once the CMA and European Commission made a decision, the company would begin negotiations with the FTC.
However, Wilkinson also revealed that if no resolution with the FTC could be reached, “the deal could then go forth and could close” and the FTC issue might end up in court. If Microsoft tries to close the deal without FTC approval, the US agency would need to file a temporary injunction with a federal court to halt the acquisition. But getting that injunction granted would not necessarily be easy because, with CMA and EU approval, Microsoft could point out that other government bodies have decided that there are no antitrust concerns to warrant an injunction. In other words, according to a source speaking with the New York Post, “They’re going to cram this down the FTC’s throats.”
The FTC maintains that it has good reason to oppose Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition. As a growing number of lawmakers begin to question Sony’s own anti-consumer tendencies, such as allegedly paying third-party developers to not release games on Xbox consoles, the FTC has stated that its attempt to block the deal is “based on law and facts.” Nevertheless, while there was a lot of uncertainty a year ago, many analysts now feel that Microsoft will ultimately be able to complete the acquisition.
MORE: Sony’s Objection to Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Acquisition Explained
Source: TweakTown, New York Post