Court grants FTC temporary restraining order to block Microsoft/ABK merge ahead of ongoing lawsuit


Yesterday, we reported on the FTC’s appeal to the US District Court of Northern California to block Microsoft’s buyout of Activision-Blizzard. The FTC maintained that it had seen press reports suggesting that Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard were planning to go ahead and seal the deal as planned at the end of June in spite of the ongoing lawsuit over its legality, which isn’t set to begin until August, so the FTC sought an emergency restraining order and injunction stopping the two companies from doing just that.

Well, last night the court granted the temporary restraining order pending hearings on the preliminary injunction, which the FTC insisted was “necessary to maintain the status quo and prevent interim harm to competition during the pendency of the FTC’s administrative proceeding.” Here’s the relevant bit from Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley:

“The Court, having read and considered the TRO, finds that temporary relief pursuant to [the relevant FTC Act], is necessary to maintain the status quo while the Complaint is pending, preserve this Court’s ability to order effective relief in the event it determines a preliminary injunction is warranted, and preserve the FTC’s ability to obtain an effective permanent remedy in the event that it prevails in its pending administrative proceeding. […] Microsoft and Activision shall not close or consummate their proposed transaction or a substantially similar transaction until after 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the fifth business day after the Court rules on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction[.]”

The evidentiary hearing for the preliminary injunction is now set for June 22nd and 23rd.

“Accelerating the legal process in the US will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market,” a Microsoft spokesperson told the Verge (note he didn’t deny the accusation). “A temporary restraining order makes sense until we can receive a decision from the Court, which is moving swiftly.”

Source: FTC v. Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard via The Verge. Cheers, darthbawl!
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