No ‘substantial’ settlement discussions between US President Joe Biden’s administration and Microsoft to resolve legal dispute over Xbox maker’s $69 billion (Rs 57,190 crore) acquisition of game maker Activision Blizzard, FTC lawyer said Tuesday.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which enforces antitrust laws, asked a judge in early December to block the deal, arguing that it would give Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, while denying Nintendo consoles and Sony’s PlayStation outside.
FTC attorney James Weingarten said in a brief telephone pretrial hearing that there were no “substantial” settlement discussions between the parties.
Microsoft argued that the deal would benefit both gamers and gaming companies, and offered to sign a legally binding consent decree with the FTC to provide ten years of Call of Duty games to rivals, including Sony.
The case reflects the tough approach taken by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on antitrust enforcement. But antitrust experts say the FTC will face an uphill battle in persuading a judge to block the deal as Microsoft voluntarily made concessions to allay concerns that it could dominate the gaming market.
FTC Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell will rule on the deal after an August 2023 hearing. Either party can then appeal to the same FTC commissioner who voted to challenge it, and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The deal faces scrutiny by the European Union, which has until March 23 to decide whether to approve or block the deal.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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