FTC To Appeal Judge’s Greenlight On $69B Merger

According to a report, in response to a judge’s order that would enable Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed an appeal.

The Federal Trade Commission has filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in response to the judge’s decision as of Wednesday. The FTC had asked a judge to prevent the sale from going forward, but Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley refused their plea the day before this filing.

The Federal Trade Commission has been fighting Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard on the grounds that it would hurt market competition if Microsoft, which controls the Xbox gaming system, also owns major video game brands such as “Call of Duty.” 

Judge Corley argued that the FTC had not provided sufficient evidence to prove that the merger would result in substantial damage to the sector and was thus unlikely to win at trial.

Douglas Farrar, a spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, said in a statement released on Wednesday that the agency is disappointed in the result, given the clear danger this acquisition presents to the open market in cloud gaming, consoles, and subscription services.

Reports show several countries and regions have already approved the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard combination.  Brazil, Serbia, Chile, and Saudi Arabia were the first countries to approve the merger in 2022, and additional nations followed suit in the spring of 2023. 

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) halted the agreement in April. The CMA announced an unexpected ruling that it would not approve the merger due to concerns about the impact on cloud gaming. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have filed the appeals. The CMA requested a stay from the Competition Appeal Tribunal, but it was denied.

After obtaining Microsoft’s 10-year promises in February 2023, the European Union’s European Commission dropped its objection and allowed the agreement to advance in May 2023.

The merger is still being reviewed in Australia and New Zealand.