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Meta Platforms agrees to delay closing Within deal given U.S. challenge

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FILE PHOTO: Logo of Meta Platforms is seen in Davos
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Meta Platforms, the parent of Facebook which is making a big play for virtual reality, has agreed to delay closing its deal for Within Unlimited, maker of the popular fitness app "Supernatural," according to a court filing.

The Federal Trade Commission had filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the deal in July, and had asked a judge in federal court in San Francisco for a temporary restraining order stopping the companies from closing the deal.

In a joint court filing on Thursday, Meta agreed not to close until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 or until the first business day after the judge decides whether the case may go forward.

The FTC, which voted 3-2 on whether to file the lawsuit, called Facebook a "global technology behemoth," noting its ownership of popular apps including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, and said its "campaign to conquer VR" began in 2014 when it acquired Oculus, a VR headset manufacture

Facebook, which agreed to buy Within in October 2021 for an undisclosed sum, said when the lawsuit was filed that the FTC case was "based on ideology and speculation, not evidence."

The FTC argued in its complaint that the planned acquisition was a way for Meta to dominate virtual reality.

Meta already has the best-selling VR headset, the Quest 2, and controls a Meta Quest Store with hundreds of apps. Within, founded in 2014, creates original content for virtual reality. It describes itself as "the premier destination for cinematic virtual reality."

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Sandra Maler)