March 2, 2024

The US Federal Trade Commission will file an injunction blocking Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a source familiar with a planned court filing said on Monday.

Microsoft is seeking to acquire the Call of Duty videogame maker in a $69 billion (nearly Rs. 5,68,800 crore) deal.

The EU approved the Activision deal in May, but British competition authorities blocked the takeover in April.

The FTC, which enforces antitrust law, initially asked a judge to block the transaction in early December, arguing it would give Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo consoles and Sony Group’s PlayStation out in the cold.

The judge overseeing the case in the Northern District of California would need to approve the order.

“We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith in a statement.

Microsoft has said the deal would benefit gamers and gaming companies alike, offering to sign a legally binding consent decree with the FTC to provide Call of Duty games to rivals including Sony for a decade.

The case reflects the muscular approach to antitrust enforcement taken by the administration of US President Joe Biden. But antitrust experts say the FTC faces an uphill battle to convince a judge to block the deal, because of the voluntary concessions offered by Microsoft to allay fears it could dominate the gaming market.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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