US FTC Official Withdraws Case That Sought to Block Microsoft-Activision $69 Billion Deal

The US Federal Trade Commission official on Thursday withdrew the agency’s case before an in-house judge that sought to block Microsoft’s $69 billion (roughly Rs. 5,66,200 crore) acquisition of game-maker Activision.

The agency has been pursuing a two-pronged attack against the proposed transaction. One was in district court, which refused last week to slap a preliminary injunction on the proposed transaction. An appeals court also turned down a request for the deal to be paused.

The second was before an FTC administrative law judge, where the deal was set to go to trial on August 2. It was this attack that the agency put on hold on Thursday, in an order made by FTC Secretary April Tabor.

Microsoft and Activision argued in a motion posted to the FTC’s website on Wednesday that withdrawing the agency’s case was both mandatory and in the public interest.

“The district court had a full opportunity to consider the FTC’s claims and found that the Commission was unlikely to succeed on the merits of those claims for multiple, independently sufficient reasons,” the companies said in their motion.

Activision Blizzard said on Wednesday it had extended the deadline for the close of its takeover by Microsoft to October 18 as the companies work to secure approval from the United Kingdom’s antitrust authority.

The Call of Duty publisher said the companies also agreed to increase the deal termination fee to $3.5 billion (roughly Rs. 28,700 crore) from $3 billion (roughly Rs. 24,600 crore) if it does not close by August 29. The fee will further rise to $4.5 billion (roughly Rs. 36,900 crore) after September 15.

Earlier this week, Microsoft’s appeal against Britain’s block on its takeover of Activision was formally paused by a London tribunal, to give the parties more time to resolve the dispute. Microsoft, Activision, and Britain’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), had all asked for a two-month stay of the case after the CMA said it would consider a modified deal put forward by Microsoft.

© Thomson Reuters 2023 

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