A California judge on Wednesday denied the Federal Trade Commission’s bid for a preliminary injunction to block Meta Platforms Inc.’s proposed acquisition of VR startup Within Unlimited.
The sealed decision from federal judge Edward Davila of San Jose, Calif., does not preclude the agency from pursuing a separate case to block the deal, according to a Bloomberg report. Separately, Davila issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Meta from closing the transaction for a week while the FTC decides whether to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.
“We are pleased that the Court has denied the FTC’s motion to block our acquisition of Within. This deal will bring pro-competitive benefits to the ecosystem and spur innovation that will benefit people, developers, and the VR space more broadly. We look forward to closing the transaction soon,” a Meta spokesperson told MarketWatch.
The FTC declined comment.
Shares of Meta
are flat in late-morning trading.
Facebook’s parent company’s court victory is a major blow for FTC Chair Lina Khan, a President Biden appointee brought on to rejuvenate the federal government’s antitrust enforcement while Congress fails to enact any significant legislation.
Khan, who made her name with a lacerating paper on the monopolistic business practices of Amazon.com Inc.
has vowed a hardline stance on mega-mergers. This led her and the FTC to sue Meta in July for its proposed purchase of Within, maker of the popular VR fitness app Supernatural.
Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and VR head Andrew Bosworth, testified during an eight-day hearing in December over the matter.
Indeed, history is not on the FTC’s side given the court’s decision, some legal experts contend.
The FTC has typically terminated administrative process when a federal court declines to issue a preliminary injunction blocking a deal. The last time the FTC pursued a proceeding after losing in federal court was nearly 30 years ago, in 1995, in a case involving R.R. Donnelley and printing facilities.