Microsoft-Activision Merger Advances: U.S. Court Denies FTC Appeal

Microsoft has scored a significant victory with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) motion to temporarily halt its $68.7 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard. The verdict was announced late Friday, reports CNBC.

While the court’s ruling removes a major hurdle, Microsoft continues to engage with the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority to address lingering concerns about the transaction. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard aim to seal the deal by July 18.

Responding to the decision, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and vice chair, said, “We appreciate the Ninth Circuit’s swift response denying the FTC’s motion to further delay the deal. This brings us another step closer to the finish line in this marathon of global regulatory reviews.”

Earlier in the week, a San Francisco federal judge ruled against the FTC. The commission responded by filing an appeal on Wednesday. The FTC had initially taken legal action in December to block the acquisition, citing concerns that it could lead to anti-competitive practices. Microsoft countered these claims by assuring broader access to the games.

Under Lina Khan’s direction, the FTC has lost several battles against tech giants. For instance, it failed to prevent Meta Platforms from acquiring the virtual reality fitness app startup, Within.

It looks like the writing is on the wall for the FTC as it seems unlikely the Microsoft-Activision deal will be blocked in the U.S. at this point.

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