Saturday, February 4, 2023

CHART: Key deadlines in Microsoft-ActivisionBlizzard merger reviews in U.S., UK, EU, New Zealand between now and May 1

Here's an updated version of the chart I first showed on January 10 in order to visualize the next key deadlines in the merger reviews of Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard King (NASDAQ:ATVI) in four jurisdictions (click on the image to enlarge):

Here's a table of the key acronyms:

N.D. Cal.United States District Court for the Northern District of California
MTD(Microsoft's) motion to dismiss (the so-called gamers' lawsuit)
prot orderprotective order (i.e., protection of confidential business information)
PIpreliminary injunction
FTC(United States) Federal Trade Commission
CMA(UK) Competition & Markets Authority
DG COMP(European Commission's) Directorate General for Competition
NZ ComComCommerce Commission of New Zealand

Note that all of this is in flux and some of those events may not (have to) happen. For instance, while the CMA is expected to publish its provisional findings next week, those response hearings in late February or early March will not necessarily be required. Also, in the so-called gamers' (actually lawyers') lawsuit in San Francisco, it is possible that Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley will rule on the protective order without holding the March 9 hearing. And if the motion to dismiss is granted, even if only in part, this may have implications for the preliminary injunction (possibly even obviating any PI hearing).

The European Commission won't necessarily exhaust its decision deadline. It issued an SO last week, to which Microsoft not has to respond (with the benefit of its lawyers' access to the case file), and Microsoft would be entitled to a hearing--but an agreement could be struck and that would obviate the need for a merger hearing in Brussels, but likely also result in a decision prior to April 11. But there is also the possibility of further delays in any jurisdiction, for example, because of "stop the clock" agreements.

The current chart shows some interesting potential effects of one decision on another. For instance, the decision in New Zealand has been pushed back since the last version of this chart and will be due shortly after the one in the UK.

Even more important is the fact that the current EU deadline is right before the preliminary injunction hearing in San Francisco. EU clearance would make things (even) harder for the class-action plaintiffs in California.

I will update this chart again in due course.

In case you missed them, here are my two previous posts on this merger topic: