Microsoft Scores Major Victory Over FTC in $75 Billion Activision Deal.
Microsoft is one step closer to finalizing its $75 billion bid for Activision Blizzard, the world’s largest videogame company. On Tuesday, a US federal judge rejected the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to pause the merger, allowing the two companies to move forward with the deal.
Reuters reported that the FTC had argued that the deal could give Microsoft too much control over the videogame market, leading to higher prices and less choice for consumers. But Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley rejected the FTC’s claims, citing a lack of evidence to back up the agency’s assertions. The decision is a major victory for Microsoft, which now has the green light to move forward with the deal.
“We appreciate the Ninth Circuit’s swift response denying the FTC’s motion to further delay the deal,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft President. “This brings us another step closer to the finish line in this marathon of global regulatory reviews.”
Microsoft’s bid for Activision Blizzard had met with opposition from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The agency had rejected the deal in May, citing concerns about its impact on competition in cloud gaming. But the CMA reversed course on Tuesday, saying it was open to considering Microsoft’s proposals to restructure the transaction in a way that would address its concerns.
“The ruling in California signals a path to full regulatory approval elsewhere around the globe,” said Bobby Kotick, Activision’s Chief Executive.
The FTC was disappointed in the ruling, with FTC spokesperson Douglas Farrar calling it “a clear threat this merger poses to open competition in cloud gaming, subscription services, and consoles.” The agency has until Friday to appeal the decision, but it has dropped cases in the past after losing the request for an injunction.
The ruling clears the way for Microsoft and Activision to close their deal before July 18, the deadline set when they announced the transaction. Microsoft is one step closer to completing a deal that could have far-reaching implications for the gaming industry.
This could be the largest merger in the history of videogaming, and the FT’s decision is one of the few remaining hurdles stopping Microsoft from closing the deal. For gamers, it could mean more choices and lower prices. While the FTC may still try to block the deal, for now, Microsoft has won the battle—and the war may soon be over.