Microsoft’s $69 Billion Activision Acquisition Clears First Hurdle in Court

Microsoft’s $69 Billion Activision Acquisition Clears First Hurdle in Court

Table of Content

In this article, we’ll explore the recent court ruling in favor of Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc., its implications on the deal, and the challenges still ahead for the tech giant.

Key Takeaways:

  • In a court case, Microsoft won an initial victory against a group of gamers who had sued them for antitrust violations.
  • The judge dismissed the case but allowed the gamers to file an amended complaint within 20 days.
  • The acquisition still faces challenges from the Federal Trade Commission, European authorities, and a shareholder lawsuit.

Judge Dismisses Antitrust Lawsuit, but Gamers Get Second Chance

Microsoft won a preliminary legal battle against video gamers who filed an antitrust lawsuit aiming to block the company’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc. 

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley dismissed the case without prejudice, stating that the plaintiffs’ claims were lacking in detail. 

However, she granted the gamers 20 days to file an amended complaint with more information about how the transaction would distort competition in the video game market.

The Road Ahead for Microsoft’s Activision Acquisition

Despite the recent court win, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision still faces significant hurdles. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has brought antitrust claims against the deal, and European authorities are scrutinizing the transaction. 

Additionally, a shareholder lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Activision investors, alleging that the company’s CEO and other executives, with Microsoft’s help, orchestrated the deal to save their jobs amidst a high-profile sexual harassment scandal at Activision.

Activision’s Toxic “Frat House” Culture Adds Complexity to the Deal

The acquisition comes in the wake of accusations that Activision’s leadership fostered a toxic “frat house” workplace culture, marked by sexual harassment and discrimination. 

This ongoing scandal further complicates the merger and adds another layer of scrutiny to the proposed transaction.

Judge Questions Plaintiffs’ Allegations and Calls for More Details

Judge Corley criticized the gamers’ antitrust lawsuit for not providing enough factual context to support their claim that the merger would harm market competition. 

She questioned the basis for the gamers’ concerns about higher prices, less innovation, and decreased consumer choice, asking for more specific allegations in their amended complaint.

Microsoft’s Past Actions with ZeniMax Media Acquisition Raise Doubts

The judge acknowledged Microsoft’s history of breaking promises regarding content availability on rival platforms, pointing to the 2020 acquisition of ZeniMax Media. 

However, she noted that the gamers’ current allegations were not sufficient to infer that Microsoft would break its promises about Activision’s games, such as the popular Call of Duty franchise.

Gamers Lack Standing on Labor Market Impact

Judge Corley also rejected a portion of the gamers’ lawsuit that alleged an anticompetitive impact on the labor market for video game developers. 

She determined that the gamers lacked standing to make such a claim, as they were not directly affected by the potential labor market consequences.

Next Steps for Microsoft and the Gamers

Microsoft and its legal team celebrated the initial dismissal of the lawsuit but must remain vigilant as the gamers have the opportunity to file an amended complaint with additional factual detail. 

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs’ attorneys are expected to rework their case to address the judge’s concerns and strengthen their argument against the acquisition.

Conclusion

The legal battle surrounding Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is far from over. 

While the recent court ruling represents a preliminary victory for Microsoft, the company must still navigate the ongoing antitrust claims from the FTC, scrutiny from European authorities, and the shareholder lawsuit. 

As the case progresses, all eyes will be on how the gamers amend their complaint and whether the acquisition will ultimately go through amidst the numerous challenges it faces.

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Written by

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling is a renowned financial writer with over 10 years in the finance sector. With a strong economics background, he simplifies complex financial topics for a wide audience. Alexander contributes to top financial platforms and is working on his first book to promote financial independence.

Reviewed By

Judith

Judith

Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.