Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

CNBC

in a victory MicrosoftFriday night, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals be rejected FTC files motion to temporarily block Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft is still grappling with concerns over the deal from Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority. The companies had been hoping to close the deal by July 18.

“We appreciate the Ninth Circuit’s swift response in denying the FTC’s motion to further delay the transaction,” Microsoft President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith said in a statement. One step closer to the finish line in the marathon of regulatory scrutiny.”

After five days of court hearings, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled against the FTC on Tuesday, and the federal agency appealed Wednesday.

The FTC first filed suit in December to block the acquisition, then filed for an emergency injunction preventing the deal from completing before bringing it up to an agency administrative law judge. The FTC has argued the deal is anticompetitive because if it goes through, Microsoft could make some games exclusive to its own Xbox console or dilute the experience of Activision titles, such as Call of Duty, which is popular on rival services. “game. Microsoft says it will make these games more widely available.

In an emergency motion filed Thursday with the Ninth Circuit, the FTC said the district judge “in denying preliminary relief applied the wrong legal standard: The court was effectively asking the FTC to certify to the court as arbitrator that all of its case”. Legality of Merger. The agency requested an interim injunction while the court considers an appeal of the district court’s conclusion.

Under Lina Khan, the FTC has lost other battles with tech companies, including an effort to block Meta Platforms’ acquisition of virtual reality fitness app startup Within.

FTC representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

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