Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
In a win for Microsoftthe US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit late Friday denied the Federal Trade Commission’s motion to temporarily prevent Microsoft from closing its $68.7 billion acquisition of the video game publisher Activision Blizzard.
Microsoft is still working to resolve concerns about the UK Competition and Markets Authority transaction. The two companies have been looking to close the deal before July 18.
“We appreciate the Ninth Circuit’s quick response in denying the FTC’s motion to further delay the settlement. This brings us one step closer to the finish line in this marathon of global regulatory reviews,” said Brad Smith, president and vice president of Microsoft, in a statement.
A federal judge in San Francisco, after five days of court hearings, ruled against the FTC on Tuesday and the federal agency filed its appeal on Wednesday.
The FTC first sued to block the acquisition last December, then filed for an emergency injunction to block completion of the deal before an agency administrative law judge took over. The FTC has argued that the transaction was anticompetitive because Microsoft could make some of its games exclusive to its own Xbox game consoles or diminish the experience of Activision games such as popular Call of Duty titles on rival services if the deal will be closed. Microsoft has said that it would make games more widely available instead.
In an emergency motion filed Thursday with the Ninth Circuit, the FTC said the district judge “denied preliminary relief, applying the wrong legal standard: the court effectively required the FTC to prove its entire case on the merits with the court.” as arbitrator of the legality of the merger.” The agency requested a temporary injunction while the court considered an appeal of the district court’s finding.
Under Lina Khan’s leadership, the FTC has lost other battles with tech companies, including its effort to stop Meta Platforms from buying virtual reality fitness app company Within.
The FTC declined to comment.