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Business News/ News / World/  US court rejects FTC's bid to halt Microsoft's acquisition of activision

US court rejects FTC's bid to halt Microsoft's acquisition of activision

US federal court denies FTC's request to temporarily halt Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, pending appeal.

An image from Activision's Call of Duty is shown on a smartphone near a photograph of the Microsoft logo in this photo taken in New York (AP)Premium
An image from Activision's Call of Duty is shown on a smartphone near a photograph of the Microsoft logo in this photo taken in New York (AP)

According to a court filing, a US federal court has denied the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) request to impose a temporary hold on Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the creator of "Call of Duty," for $69 billion.

As reported by Reuters, the court's decision comes after a federal judge ruled in favor of Microsoft earlier in the week, stating that the FTC had not provided sufficient evidence to prove that the deal would violate antitrust laws. Following the judge's ruling, the FTC filed an appeal on Wednesday, which Microsoft has stated it will contest.

FTC has requested an order to halt the closing of the deal between Microsoft and Activision until the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decides on a separate stay request. If any regulatory obstacles remain unresolved, there is a higher chance that the agreement between Microsoft and Activision will expire on July 18 without being finalized.

After this date, either company will have the option to terminate the deal unless they agree to extend the deadline through negotiations.

The FTC had urged the court to expedite its decision on the request for a pause, emphasizing that a temporary restraining order currently in place was set to expire shortly before midnight on Friday. "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," Microsoft President Brad Smith said earlier in an emailed statement.

Reuters further noted that in its motion for the pause to Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, the FTC argued her denial of a preliminary injunction to halt the deal "raises serious, substantial issues for the Court of Appeals to resolve."

"The FTC asks this Court to enjoin the merger at issue pending resolution of the FTC’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion is denied," the judge said in the order late on Thursday.

The FTC had initially requested a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt the deal until an internal judge at the FTC could evaluate it. However, Judge Corley applied the standard typically used to permanently block a deal, which the agency argued was not appropriate in this case.

Additionally, the FTC expressed disagreement with the judge's assessment of the deal's impact on multi-game subscriptions and the level of credit given to Microsoft for its efforts to secure agreements with competitors in order to salvage the proposed transaction.

In response to the FTC's concerns, Microsoft had made an agreement to license "Call of Duty" to competitors, with a specific 10-year contract with Nintendo contingent upon the completion of the merger, Reuters reported.

The deal, which represents the largest in the history of the video game industry, had also faced challenges in Britain. However, following the ruling in California, the Competition and Markets Authority in Britain, which had previously opposed the transaction, stated that a revised deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard could address its concerns, pending a new investigation.



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Published: 14 Jul 2023, 06:55 AM IST
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