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Microsoft will defend Activision Blizzard’s $69 billion deal in antitrust lawsuit brought by players in US court


Microsoft will on Friday defend its planned $69 billion (roughly Rs. 5,65,480 crores) acquisition of Call of Duty company Activision Blizzard in a private antitrust lawsuit in San Francisco federal court brought by video game players. Who claim that the deal will harm industrial competition and must be stopped.

At the hearing, US District Judge Jacqueline Corley will consider her request for a preliminary injunction blocking the proposed acquisition.

The deal would be the largest ever in gaming if it goes through. Microsoft defended the partnership as beneficial to gamers, and its lawyers asked Corley to deny preventing the acquisition.

“What the plaintiffs are asking this court to do is unprecedented,” Microsoft attorneys told Corley in a May 5 court filing. “They have not cited a single case where the court ordered the merger on the basis of alleged damages claimed by a small number of individual consumers.”

The deal, first announced in January 2022, separately faces intense regulatory scrutiny from the US, EU, UK and other competition law enforcement agencies.

Britain’s antitrust regulator said in April it would block a Microsoft takeover after the company failed to allay competition concerns.

The US Federal Trade Commission’s case against the deal is pending at the agency.

Joseph Alioto, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said the players had a “very strong complaint” contesting the takeover.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the plaintiffs’ complaint contained “unsupported and unconscionable allegations about the impact of the deal on competition”.

US antitrust laws allow private consumers to sue proposed acquisitions in lawsuits that differ from any federal regulatory actions.

Corley in March dismissed an earlier version of the plaintiff’s complaint as “inadequate”. It allowed plaintiffs to reintroduce a more forceful complaint.

On Monday, attorneys for the plaintiffs urged Corley to block the deal to allow for a trial on the merits of the buyout.

“The competition loss cannot be recovered,” attorneys for the plaintiffs said in a court note. “Decommissioning after completion is highly problematic and undesirable, which makes decommissioning after completion exponentially more difficult.”

The case is DeMartini v. Microsoft, US District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 3: 22-cv-08991.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.