US judge denies FTC attempt to block Microsoft’s Activision deal

A federal judge denied the US competition regulator’s attempt to block Microsoft’s $75bn purchase of Activision Blizzard, ruling that the Federal Trade Commission had failed to show the deal would harm competition in the video game market.

Shares in Activision rose more than 5 per cent.

“The FTC has not shown it is likely to succeed on its assertion the combined firm will probably pull [Activision’s blockbuster game] Call of Duty from Sony PlayStation, or that its ownership of Activision content will substantially lessen competition in the video game library subscription and cloud gaming markets,” judge Jacqueline Scott Corley wrote in her decision.

The FTC has until Friday to appeal against the decision. The agency had sought a preliminary injunction to block the deal pending the outcome of a separate challenge it has mounted in its in-house court, where proceedings are due to start on August 2.

Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick said in an email to employees that 38 countries have approved the deal, though the UK blocked it in April. “We’re optimistic that today’s ruling signals a path to full regulatory approval elsewhere around the globe, and we stand ready to work with UK regulators to address any remaining concerns so our merger can quickly close,” he wrote.

This is a developing story

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