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US Requests Appeals Court to Halt Microsoft Deal Following Lower Court’s Rejection

Hold your horses! The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ain’t giving up without a fight. They just asked an appeals court to hit the pause button on Microsoft’s whopping $69 billion purchase of gaming giant Activision Blizzard. And get this, they did it mere hours after a federal judge turned down a similar request. Talk about not backing down!

Earlier this week, the FTC suffered a blow when a San Francisco court sided with Microsoft, saying the deal didn’t break any antitrust laws. But the FTC ain’t taking it lying down. They appealed the decision, and now they’re knockin’ on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ door, begging for a temporary halt to Microsoft’s plans to scoop up Activision.

Now, here’s the kicker: If any more regulatory hurdles pop up, the Microsoft-Activision love affair might just fizzle out by July 18. After that, either company can pack their bags and walk away, unless they manage to strike a last-minute deal.

But the FTC wants to put a wrench in Microsoft’s plans ASAP. They’re in a rush to get a “temporary pause” on the deal, ’cause the clock’s tickin’ on an existing temporary restraining order that’s set to expire just before midnight on Friday.

You know what Microsoft has to say about all this? They’re not exactly thrilled. Microsoft President Brad Smith sent an email sayin’, “We’re disappointed that the FTC is continuing to pursue what has become a demonstrably weak case, and we will oppose further efforts to delay the ability to move forward.” Well, it seems like Microsoft ain’t backin’ down either.

The FTC ain’t pullin’ any punches either. They’re arguing that the judge’s denial of their request for a preliminary injunction “raises serious, substantial issues” that the appeals court needs to sort out. But the judge ain’t budgin’. In her order, she straight-up denied the motion for a pause.

The FTC thought they had a chance to temporarily stop the deal while an internal FTC judge looked into it. But no, the judge went ahead and applied the standards for permanently halting the deal instead. The FTC thinks that’s a bit off.

And here’s where things get interesting: The FTC believes the judge didn’t fully consider the impact of the deal on multi-game subscriptions and gave Microsoft more credit than they deserved for makin’ nice with their competitors just to save the merger. To appease the FTC, Microsoft even agreed to let rivals license “Call of Duty,” including a sweet 10-year contract with Nintendo if the deal went through.

This whole shebang is a big deal, you know? It’s the largest merger in the history of the gaming industry. And it wasn’t just facing obstacles in the U.S. Even across the pond in Britain, things weren’t lookin’ so rosy. But hey, after the ruling in California, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority changed their tune. They said if Microsoft and Activision Blizzard reworked their deal a bit, they might just be satisfied, but they’d still have to investigate further. Phew, talk about jumpin’ through hoops!

Now, takin’ a step back, it’s not every day you see a merger fight headin’ to an appeals court. But hey, the FTC’s been down this road before. Over a decade ago, they duked it out with Whole Foods when they tried to snatch up Wild Oats. They even took it to the appeals court, but in the end, they settled with the companies before the court made a final call.

So, buckle up, folks! This rollercoaster ain’t over yet. The FTC is fightin’ tooth and nail to put the brakes on Microsoft’s gaming empire dreams. Will they succeed? Only time will tell.

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