Microsoft is set to defend its proposed $69 billion (nearly Rs.5.65.48 billion) acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard in a private antitrust lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco on Friday that was filed by video gamers , who claim that the deal would reduce competition in the industry should be stopped.
At the hearing, US District Judge Jacqueline Corley will consider a motion for an injunction prohibiting the proposed acquisition.
If the deal goes through, it would be the biggest ever in gaming. Microsoft has defended that the merger will benefit gamers, and its lawyers have urged Corley to opt out of blocking the acquisition.
“What the plaintiffs are asking of this court is unprecedented. They have not cited a single case in which a court ordered a merger based on alleged damages asserted by some individual consumers,” Microsoft’s attorneys told Corley in a May 5 court filing.
First announced in January 2022, the deal is subject to intense regulatory scrutiny by the US, European Union, UK and other competition authorities.
The UK antitrust authority said in April it would block the takeover of Microsoft after the company failed to address competition concerns.
The US Federal Trade Commission’s case against the deal is pending with the agency.
Joseph Alioto, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the players had a “very strong grievance” against the takeover.
A Microsoft spokesman said the plaintiffs’ complaint contained “unsupported and implausible allegations about the deal’s competitive impact.”
US antitrust laws allow private consumers to sue proposed acquisitions in court proceedings that are distinct from federal regulatory actions.
Corley in March dismissed an earlier version of the plaintiff’s complaint, which she called “inadequate.” It allowed the plaintiffs to re-file a weightier lawsuit.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs on Monday asked Corley to block the deal to allow a hearing over the merits of the acquisition.
“The loss of competition cannot be claimed,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a complaint. “The resolution of the merger after the closing is extremely problematic and unfavorable, which makes the sale after the closing significantly more difficult.”
The case is Demartini v. Microsoft, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:22-cv-08991.
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