F.T.C. Sues to Block Microsoft’s $69 Billion Acquisition of Activision

The F.T.C. sued in July to block Meta, Facebook’s parent company, from buying a virtual reality start-up for $400 million in a case drawing on little-used legal arguments. A judge began a multiday hearing in the case on Thursday that could determine the fate of the F.T.C.’s suit.

When Microsoft announced the deal to acquire Activision in January, it said it wanted to get a toehold in mobile gaming, where Microsoft barely competes, and acquire a studio that produces hugely popular games, which would make its consoles and game subscription service more appealing. Microsoft’s powerful computing infrastructure and deep pockets make it a leader in the gaming space, but it has struggled to produce hit titles at the same rate as Sony or Nintendo.

Phil Spencer, chief executive of Microsoft’s video game business, called Call of Duty “one of the amazing entertainment franchises on the planet.”

Microsoft indicated approvals would be a substantial hurdle, and told investors it could take 18 months to close. It agreed to pay as much as $3 billion to Activision if the deal falls apart.

Microsoft pursued Activision when the game maker was a troubled company, reeling from a lawsuit filed by a California regulator that accused it of fostering a toxic workplace culture in which women were routinely sexually harassed. For months, Activision employees staged intermittent walkouts and some top executives departed.

Ms. Khan has taken a greater interest in scrutinizing how mergers could hurt workers, and the Communications Workers of America, which had been organizing workers at Activision, initially expressed reservations about the deal. In June, Microsoft announced an agreement with the union where it promised not to oppose unionization at Activision.

In October, the union’s president, Chris Shelton, met with Ms. Khan to praise Microsoft’s commitment to remain neutral in union campaigns and said the deal should be approved. In an opinion piece in The Hill on Monday, Mr. Shelton wrote that approving the deal “would send a game-changing message to corporate America” that labor concerns matter.

Kellen Browning contributed reporting.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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