The chances of Microsoft taking over major games publisher Activision Blizzard have been given a big boost after a US judge rejected a request from US regulators to block the deal.
Microsoft said after the US win it would focus on resolving concerns in the UK.
The tech giant’s merger with the Call of Duty owner would be the biggest deal of its kind in gaming industry history.
Shares in Activision surged more than 10% as investors bet it would succeed.
In the US regulators had argued that such a deal, valued at $69bn (£56bn) last year, would hurt gamers and reduce competition by giving Microsoft, maker of the Xbox, the power to deny rivals access to Activision’s games.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had sought an emergency block of the deal, which is due to close later this month, while it challenged the plans.
But Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said she did not think the regulator would win in its case.
“The FTC has not shown it is likely to succeed on its assertion the combined firm will probably pull Call of Duty from Sony PlayStation, or that its ownership of Activision content will substantially lessen competition in the video game library subscription and cloud gaming markets,” Judge Scott Corley wrote in her decision, delivered after a week-long hearing in San Francisco.
The ruling in the US is the strongest indicator so far that the tech giant’s purchase will eventually go forward.