June 20, 2024

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The FTC’s appeal was denied, with the acquisition of Activision from Microsoft looming

The FTC’s appeal was denied, with the acquisition of Activision from Microsoft looming

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) saw its initial appeal against Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s ruling this week immediately dismissed.

US District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, who presided over the main case, denied the FTC’s call for an appeal late last night.

With that avenue now closed, the FTC subsequently launched a new push to “pause” Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Reuters I reported, this time with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Simply put, the FTC is arguing that its failed court case was judged too harshly — with Judge Corley setting a bar too high for the FTC to meet when it was simply seeking more time to examine the deal.

The FTC also said it was dissatisfied with how Judge Corley “got it wrong” on matters related to Call of Duty subscription access and about the lack of importance he placed on vetting deals with cloud gaming competitors.

But as the case drags on, there is now political pressure on the FTC to concede defeat.

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lena Khan was grilled yesterday by US politicians looking for answers as to why the regulator has recently suffered a string of losses when dealing with corporate mergers.

“It sounds like you’re losing a little bit, and I’m not saying that’s disrespectful, but that’s taxpayer money,” Rep. Kevin Kelly told Kahn. IGN).

“Not only did the court reject your assertion of a possible anti-competitive effect, but it found the exact opposite,” Kelly said. “The standard evidence points to increased consumer reach. So why should Americans trust your judgment when a Biden-appointed judge says you are out of touch?”

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The FTC’s insistence also prompted a comment from Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, who sarcastically noted that this was “your tax money at work.”

Microsoft itself has commented on the FTC’s ongoing efforts to block the deal, and said it will fight back.

“We are disappointed that the FTC continues to pursue what has become a clearly weak case, and we will oppose further efforts to delay the ability to move forward,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said this week in a quote passed to Eurogamer.

A verdict on whether the FTC’s latest attempt will be successful is expected later today, as the next few days will now be crucial to getting past the deal.

Microsoft’s plans to acquire Activision Blizzard have an official end date of next Tuesday, July 18th. Barring any further disruptions, the companies seem poised to finally close the deal as soon as possible this weekend.