Last month, the Federal Trade Commission applied for a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Microsoft from completing acquisition of Activision Blizzard. A federal judge in San Francisco today denied FTC’s appeal allowing Microsoft to proceed with the deal for now. However, the FTC can now file its appeal of the decision to federal appellate court.
Here’s the conclusion provided by the judge in the final order:
This Court’s responsibility in this case is narrow. It is to decide if, notwithstanding these current circumstances, the merger should be halted—perhaps even terminated—pending resolution of the FTC administrative action. For the reasons explained, the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content. The motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore DENIED.
“We’re grateful to the Court in San Francisco for this quick and thorough decision and hope other jurisdictions will continue working towards a timely resolution. As we’ve demonstrated consistently throughout this process, we are committed to working creatively and collaboratively to address regulatory concerns,” said Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President, Microsoft.
“We’re optimistic that today’s ruling signals a path to full regulatory approval elsewhere around the globe, and we stand ready to work with UK regulators to address any remaining concerns so our merger can quickly close,” said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a memo to employees.
“We are disappointed in this outcome given the clear threat this merger poses to open competition in cloud gaming, subscription services, and consoles. In the coming days we’ll be announcing our next step to continue our fight to preserve competition and protect consumers,” said FTC spokesperson.
If FTC is not appealing against this case, Microsoft will have to win over the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom alone to go ahead with this deal.