FTC case against Activision Blizzard deal to move forward even after acquisition closes

Robert Collins

The US Federal Trade Commission is preparing to move ahead with its case against Microsoft’s $68 billion Activision merger even after said deal has completed.

The FTC’s in-house trial will ensue after a summer hiatus. The agency issued a new order today which read in part,

The commission has determined that the public interest warrants that this matter be resolved fully and expeditiously…Therefore, the commission is returning this matter to adjudication.”

Back in July, the FTC lost its preliminary injunction hearing to halt the deal from proceeding ahead of the trial. This effectively cleared the way for Microsoft to iron out a remedy with the UK CMA, which stood as the lone major opposition to the deal. Last week the CMA provisionally approved the deal in light of Microsoft’s agreement to sell off Activision’s cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft.

At this point it seems all but certain that the CMA will render a final decision to approve the merger, with the deadline coming on October 18. Meanwhile, the FTC in America will seek to unravel the deal after it has concluded.

While its challenge was temporarily suspended in August, the agency retained its right to refile a complaint at a later date. Though such a move is unusual, today’s announcement marks a notable exception.