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A US judge has blocked Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

According to The Verge, a US judge issued a temporary restraining order following the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) decision to sue Microsoft over its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This order prevents Microsoft and Activision Blizzard from closing the deal until the court determines whether or not to grant the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction. The restraining order specifies that the deal cannot be completed until a date set by the court or "after 11.59 p.m. Pacific Time on the fifth day after the Court rules on the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction." An evidentiary hearing for the preliminary injunction is scheduled for June 22 or 23.

Microsoft's General Manager of Public Affairs, David Cuddy, stated that expediting the legal process in the US will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the gaming market. He also expressed the belief that the temporary restraining order is sensible until the court reaches a decision.

The proposed acquisition, often called "acquiblizz," has faced criticism from competitors and legislators concerned about Microsoft's potential advantage in the console and cloud markets. While Microsoft has emphasized its interest in expanding its presence in mobile platforms, few legislators have taken note of Google's criticism, which centers on Microsoft's plans to launch its own app store and its potential impact on Google Play.

In April, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) voted to block the deal, a decision that Microsoft is currently appealing. However, Microsoft has not ruled out the possibility of a "mexit," excluding the UK from the deal by removing Activision Blizzard titles from British markets. This move would enable the deal to proceed even if the CMA does not approve it.

"Mexit" would be a drastic measure, involving cutting off a key market and incurring losses. The US market, however, is even more lucrative than the UK market, making it unlikely that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard would view the loss of access to the American market as a viable option.

The FTC is expected to reach a final decision on the acquisition in August, which surpasses the contractual deadline of July 18. Consequently, the companies will likely renegotiate the terms of the deal, providing an opportunity for either party to walk away from the agreement.

Source: Lewis Rees Staff Writer at PocketGamer

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