- Microsoft wins crucial legal victory as the U.S. Appeals Court denies FTC's motion to halt the company's $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
- Despite the FTC's persistent efforts, a federal judge ruled against the commission, paving the way for the monumental acquisition to be finalized by July 18.
- Amidst the FTC's ongoing struggle to curtail tech mergers, the commission faces a significant setback as it continues to voice concerns over potential anti-competitive behavior.
In a decisive triumph for tech giant Microsoft, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 9th Circuit late Friday rebuffed the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) attempt to momentarily halt Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of the renowned video game company, Activision Blizzard. This high-stakes game of corporate chess isn't over yet, as Microsoft is diligently working to alleviate the concerns of the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority. Microsoft, along with Activision Blizzard, aims to finalize the deal by July 18.
Microsoft's top brass hailed the court's rapid decision to deny the FTC's motion. Brad Smith, the tech titan's president and vice chair, depicted the victory as another stride towards the finish line in this global regulatory marathon. It seems that Microsoft's perseverance is paying off, following a tense five-day court hearing in San Francisco, where a federal judge ruled against the FTC on Tuesday.
The FTC has been in high gear since last December, initially suing to thwart the acquisition, and subsequently filing for an emergency injunction to block the completion of the deal. The commission's argument centers on its belief that the acquisition could pave the way for anti-competitive behavior. The fear is that Microsoft might monopolize some of its games, exclusively featuring them on its own Xbox consoles, or potentially degrade the user experience of Activision games, such as the famed Call of Duty series, on rival services.
However, in a dramatic twist, the FTC's emergency motion was dismissed by the 9th Circuit. The FTC had claimed that the district judge "applied the wrong legal standard" and asked for a temporary injunction. Under the direction of Lina Khan, the FTC has faced previous setbacks in similar tech battles, including a failed effort to prevent Meta Platforms from purchasing the virtual reality fitness app startup, Within.
The FTC, however, remains tight-lipped about the recent ruling, with representatives not immediately responding to requests for comment.
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