FTC Denied: Activision Blizzard Acquisition Hangs in the Balance as New Appeal Filed

US FTC Denied in Initial Appeal Against Microsoft and Activision Blizzard Ruling

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has had its initial appeal against the recent ruling in the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard case promptly denied. US District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, who presided over the main case, rejected the FTC’s request for an appeal late last night. As a result, the FTC has now turned to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking a “temporary pause” on Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The FTC argues that its failed court case was judged too harshly, suggesting that Judge Corley set an excessively high bar for the agency and that it was simply seeking additional time to examine the deal. The FTC has also expressed dissatisfaction with Judge Corley’s handling of matters related to subscription access to Call of Duty and the lack of attention given to analyzing deals with cloud gaming competitors.

However, as the case continues, there is growing political pressure for the FTC to admit defeat. FTC boss Lina Khan faced questioning from US politicians who wanted answers about the regulator’s recent losses in dealing with company mergers. Representative Kevin Kiley expressed concern about the allocation of taxpayer funds, noting that the court had rejected the FTC’s claim of likely anti-competitive effects and had found evidence of increased consumer access.

The FTC’s persistence in its appeal has also drawn comments from Mike Ybarra, the boss of Activision Blizzard, who cheekily remarked on Twitter, “Your tax dollars at work.” Microsoft itself has responded to the FTC’s efforts to delay the deal and has vowed to fight back. Microsoft President Brad Smith stated that the FTC’s case was weak, and the company would oppose further attempts to delay progress.

A ruling on the FTC’s latest attempt to halt the acquisition is expected today, with the next few days playing a critical role in finalizing the deal. Microsoft’s plans to acquire Activision Blizzard are scheduled to conclude by next Tuesday, July 18th, provided no further delays occur, suggesting the deal could be completed over the upcoming weekend.