While there are certainly hurdles to be jumped over for Microsoft to close the deal to buy Activision Blizzard, it looks like both companies are at least making preparations to make the acquisition official.
The NASDAQ stock market has announced that Activision Blizzard will be removed from its listing prior to the start of trading on Monday, July 17. That would seem to indicate that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are confident they can close the $69 billion deal before the previously agreed deadline of July 18.
Of course, all of this preparation is subject to change. Late on Wednesday, the US Federal Trade Commission filed an appeal in its current case against Microsoft to try to block its purchase of Activision Blizzard. The FTC wants a preliminary injunction put in place, but this week, after a five day court battle, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley denied that request.
The case is now going to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We should learn more about the FTC’s arguments later today, and Microsoft’s response to those arguments. The court will have to make its decision before 11:59 pm Pacific time on Friday, July 14, which is when the current temporary restraining order that was placed on Microsoft in June is set to expire.
Then there’s the dispute between Microsoft and the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which blocked the Activision Blizzard deal in late April. After the judge denied the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction, Microsoft announced it had entered talks with the CMA and had agreed to postpone a hearing before the UK’s Competition Appeals Tribunal.
The CMA quickly sent out its own statement, saying that while it had agreed to the pause in the legal battle, it also said Microsoft must create an all-new deal which would then trigger a new investigation by the CMA. It remains to be seen how all of this will move forward. In theory, Microsoft could go ahead and close the Activision Blizzard deal if it wins its battle with the FTC. However, it sounds like the company would rather make a new agreement with the CMA rather than take a more drastic move.