There are plenty of signs that regulators are unimpressed by Microsoft's proposed $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Authorities in Brazil, the UK, and the EU are already investigating the deal before giving approval. Now, it seems the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States is also investigating and may even block the merger entirely.
Not only is the FTC investigating the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard, but it may also even bring an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.
A report in Politico cites three sources close to the FTC investigation who believe the regulator could file a lawsuit against the deal next month. If that happens, the potential of the deal going through will become less likely.
The report points out that the four commissioners at the FTC have not yet had a vote on the subject. Furthermore, the regulator has still not met with layers from either company or been told of any potential concessions Microsoft would be willing to make.
However, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Activision Blizzard chief Bobby Kotick have both given depositions. Like other regulators and Microsoft rivals such as Sony, the FTC's main concern is whether acquiring franchises like Call of Duty, Warcraft, and Candy Crush would give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the gaming market.
Responding to the report, a spokesperson from Activision once again played down those concerns:
“Any suggestion that the transaction could lead to anticompetitive effects is completely absurd. This merger will benefit gamers and the U.S. gaming industry, especially as we face increasingly stiff competition from abroad. We are committed to continuing to work cooperatively with regulators around the globe to allow the transaction to proceed, but won't hesitate to fight to defend the transaction if required.”
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