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US FTC seeks court order to block Microsoft acquisition of Activision -source


(Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will seek a court order to block Microsoft Corp’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a source familiar with a planned court filing said on Monday.

The FTC, which enforces antitrust law, initially asked an administrative judge to block the transaction in early December, arguing it would give Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo consoles and Sony Group Corp’s PlayStation out in the cold.

Microsoft’s bid to acquire the “Call of Duty” videogame maker in a $69 billion deal was approved by the EU in May, but British competition authorities blocked the takeover in April.

Shares in Microsoft rose 0.8% Monday, while Activision fell 0.5%.

The FTC plans to make the filing seeking the order in the Northern District of California, the source said.

“We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith in a statement. Activision did not comment.

Microsoft has said the deal would benefit gamers and gaming companies alike, offering to sign a legally binding consent decree with the FTC to provide “Call of Duty” games to rivals including Sony for a decade.

The case reflects the muscular approach to antitrust enforcement taken by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

But antitrust experts say the FTC faces an uphill battle to convince a judge to block the deal because of the voluntary concessions offered by Microsoft to allay fears it could dominate the gaming market.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Nick Zieminski and Conor Humphries)

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