Microsoft Corp. has another headwind in its proposed $69 billion acquisition of videogame publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., in the form of an injunction from the Federal Trade Commission.
Late Monday, the FTC confirmed reports earlier in the day that it would block the acquisition, and filed a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Microsoft
and Activision Blizzard
in a San Francisco federal court.
Antitrust complaints against the deal generally revolve around concerns that Microsoft, with its Xbox gaming console, could withhold hit Activision Blizzard videogame franchises such as “Call of Duty” and “Overwatch” from competing console platforms.
“A preliminary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and prevent interim harm to competition,” the FTC said in its filing. “This loss of competition would likely result in significant harm to consumers in multiple markets at a pivotal time for the industry.”
In a statement late Monday, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s vice chair and president, said “We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court. We believe accelerating the legal process in the U.S. will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market.”
In late May, Microsoft confirmed to MarketWatch earlier reports that the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority had tentatively scheduled appeal hearings during the weeks of July 24 and July 31.
Microsoft shares closed Monday up 1.6% at $331.85, and Activision Blizzard’s finished down 0.8% at $79.77, compared with a 0.9% gain by the S&P 500 index
a 1.5% rise by the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
and a 0.6% gain by the Dow Jones Industrial Average
of which Microsoft is a component.