The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requested that a judge temporarily block Microsoft‘s proposed $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, claiming the deal could “substantially lessen competition” in the gaming market.
The requested block comes after the US competition regulator said Microsoft and Activision had signalled they could complete the deal as early as Friday (June 16).
The FTC expressed concern that the two companies could “consummate the proposed acquisition at any time … without any further notice to the Commission”.
An FTC spokeswoman said: “In light of that, and public reporting that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are considering closing their deal imminently, we have filed a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent them from closing while review continues.”
Both the US and UK have moved to block the deal, despite the European Commission recently approving the acquisition.
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The FTC blocked the deal in December last year, claiming it would give Microsoft’s Xbox console exclusive access to all of its titles, stifling choice for gamers with competing consoles.
However, the EU said that Microsoft’s pledge to offer 10-year free licensing deals, which allows every console access to its games, meant that competition wouldn’t be affected.
Brad Smith, Microsoft president, previously slammed the decisions by the FTC and UK’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA).
Smith said that “accelerating the legal process in the US will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market”.
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