A US judge struck down a bid by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to temporarily halt a planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, but the software giant still needs to clear one more hurdle in the UK.
The judge was not convinced the FTC had proved it would be able to show Microsoft’s acquisition of the games publisher will lessen competition, noting the takeover could actually boost competition by broadening access to Activision Blizzard titles including Call of Duty.
An FTC representative told Mobile World Live the agency was “disappointed in this outcome given the clear threat this merger poses to open competition in cloud gaming, subscription services and consoles”.
The representative said the FTC will announce its next steps in the coming days.
Microsoft president and vice chair Brad Smith tweeted the company was grateful to the court for the quick decision and expressed hope regulators will work swiftly.
“As we’ve demonstrated consistently throughout this process, we are committed to working creatively and collaboratively to address regulatory concerns.”
With the European Commission clearing the deal, the UK now appears to be the only significant hurdle, though Bloomberg reported the judge’s decision was prompting something of a softening in the nation’s Competition and Markets Authority’s stance, with the regulator said to be prepared to evaluate potential remedies.
Bloomberg added the UK regulator is also participating in a Competition Appeal Tribunal case lodged by the companies.