US Court of Appeals denies FTC request to suspend Microsoft deal for Activision

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday rejected the Federal Trade Commission’s request to order Microsoft to temporarily halt the closing of its $69 billion purchase of “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard.

The appeals court ruling removes one of the few remaining obstacles preventing Xbox maker Microsoft from expanding its gaming business by reaching a deal to buy Activision.

The FTC had also requested a stay from Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the U.S. District Court in Northern California, but she denied that request Thursday night.

The deal, the largest in the history of the video game industry, has yet to be approved in Britain.

The merger agreement between Microsoft and Activision will expire on July 18. After July 18, either company will be free to opt out of the deal unless they negotiate an extension.

In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority opposes the transaction due to concerns about the impact on competition in cloud gaming. On Friday, he received a “detailed and complex” new proposal from Microsoft and extended his deadline for a final decision until August 29, although he said he would strive to do so as soon as possible.

In the United States, the FTC had argued that the deal would hurt consumers, whether they play video games on consoles or have subscriptions, because Microsoft would have an incentive to exclude rivals like Sony Group. Microsoft responded to this by offering 10-year licenses to competitors.

But on Tuesday, Judge Corley ruled the deal was legal under antitrust law and denied the FTC’s request to impose a preliminary injunction to give the FTC time to bring it before an internal court judge. FTC in August.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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