Activision Blizzard is set to leave the Nasdaq Stock Market, indicating Microsoft may soon complete its $69 billion buyout of the company.
The publisher of Call of Duty, Diablo and Candy Crush is expected to leave the U.S.-based Nasdaq-100 Index on July 17, the day before the deal’s July 18 deadline. Nasdaq announced another company, The Trade Desk, Inc., will replace Activision Blizzard on the stock exchange.
The news comes after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an appeal challenging the recent verdict from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The trial, in which Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled in favor of Microsoft, was held last month. Judge Corley issued a decision this week denying the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction against Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, noting the FTC, among other things, failed to prove the deal would be anti-competitive.
Reacting to the appeal, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told IGN: “The facts haven’t changed. We’re confident the U.S. will remain among the 39 countries where the merger can close. We look forward to reinforcing the strength of our case in court, again.”
In a separate statement, Microsoft president Brad Smith said: “The District Court’s ruling makes crystal clear that this acquisition is good for both competition and consumers. We’re disappointed that the FTC is continuing to pursue what has become a demonstrably weak case, and we will oppose further efforts to delay the ability to move forward.”
The FTC’s appeal will attempt to win a preliminary injunction blocking the Activision Blizzard merger with Xbox ahead of a scheduled trial in August. If the deal is not completed by July 18, Xbox will be forced to pay $3 billion to Activision Blizzard and the buyout will potentially be opened to renegotiation. We recently spoke to analysts who expressed confidence the deal will still go through. However, the FTC still has a few more options at its disposal, including the appeal.
Meanwhile, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s appeal against the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) decision to block the deal is on hold while all parties thrash out a potential restructure of the buyout.
The current Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that prevents Microsoft from closing the deal expires at midnight on Thursday, July 13. Unless the appeals court rules before then that the TRO should be extended until a hearing, Microsoft is free to complete the acquisition from Friday, July 14, even with a pending appeal. However, currently such a move would be without an agreement with CMA.