The U.S. Appeals Court for the 9th Circuit has denied the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) motion to temporarily halt Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard. This decision comes after a federal judge in San Francisco ruled against the FTC's initial attempt to block the acquisition. The FTC had raised concerns that the acquisition might lead to anti-competitive behavior, such as Microsoft making certain games exclusive to its Xbox consoles or potentially diminishing the experience of popular Activision titles on competing platforms. However, Microsoft countered these claims, emphasizing its intention to make the games more accessible.
Global Regulatory Hurdles
While this decision marks a victory for Microsoft in the U.S., the tech giant still faces challenges abroad. The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority has expressed concerns about the acquisition, particularly in the emerging cloud gaming market. Discussions between Microsoft and the UK regulator are ongoing, with the possibility of modifications to the transaction to address these concerns. The deadline for the deal's closure is set for July 18, after which Microsoft might have to renegotiate terms with Activision Blizzard or face potential penalties.
Implications and Reactions
Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and vice chair, expressed gratitude for the 9th Circuit's prompt decision, stating, “This brings us another step closer to the finish line in this marathon of global regulatory reviews.” The acquisition, one of the largest in the tech industry, has been closely watched by industry experts and regulators alike. The FTC's efforts to block the deal highlight the increasing scrutiny of tech mergers and acquisitions, especially those with potential implications for market competition.