The never-ending saga involving Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard took another twist today, as the trillion-dollar titan defeated US regulator the Federal Trade Commission in court, after the antitrust organization ruled the acquisition sought a preliminary injunction to restrain from closing.
Over five days of testimony, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley heard arguments from both Microsoft and the FTC, and ultimately ruled in favor of allowing the Redmond firm to complete the deal ahead of its July 18 deadline. However, Microsoft still faces significant hurdles in the UK, where the Competition and Markets Authority has blocked the deal.
A statement from Judge Corley said:
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision has been described as the largest in tech history. This deserves investigation. That scrutiny has paid off: Microsoft has committed in writing, publicly and in court, to keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years on par with Xbox. It signed a deal with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to Switch. And it struck several agreements to bring Activision’s content to several cloud gaming services for the first time. The responsibility of this court in this matter is narrow. It is to be decided whether, despite these current circumstances, the merger should be halted – perhaps even closed – pending resolution of the FTC administrative action. For the reasons explained, the Court found that the FTC had not shown a likelihood that it would prevail on its claim that this particular vertical merger would substantially lessen competition in this particular industry. On the contrary, anecdotal evidence points to greater consumer access call of Duty and other activity materials. The motion for preliminary injunction is therefore denied.
The Xbox maker will now need to determine whether it closes the deal without the CMA’s permission or if it can negotiate some sort of remedy with the British regulator. Microsoft has appealed to the Competition Appellate Tribunal in a bid to reconsider the CMA, and the hearing will begin on July 28 – well after the aforementioned deadline.
The FTC has three days to appeal the aforementioned decision, but commentators have noted that it did not exercise that right when it tried to block. Acquiring VR developers within the meta. There’s still a lot of mileage left in this story, but with the FTC’s weakness and the European Commission already green-lighting the deal, a very much Now the UK regulator is under pressure.
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