Reportedly, Microsoft’s bid to acquire video game publisher Activision Blizzard could hit a major snag as early as next month.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit to block the $69 billion takeover, according to Politico, citing people familiar with the matter.
A lawsuit challenging the deal isn’t warranted, and the FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote on a complaint or meet with the companies’ attorneys.
Those people said FTC staff reviewing the deal are skeptical of the companies’ arguments.
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At the center of the FTC’s concerns is whether the acquisition of Activision would give Microsoft an unfair boost in the video game market.
Microsoft’s Xbox is the third industry leader in Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation console list.
Sony is concerned that if Microsoft produces successful games like Call of Duty exclusively for its platforms, Sony will be at a huge disadvantage.
Microsoft has vowed to keep Call of Duty available on Sony’s Playstation console, and recently made an offer to give Sony access to the game for the next 10 years.
An Activision spokesperson gave FOX Business the following statement.
“Any suggestion that the transaction could result in anticompetitive effects is completely absurd. This merger will benefit gamers and the US gaming industry, especially as we face increasingly intense competition from abroad. We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with regulators around the world to authorize the transaction.” Moving forward, but you will not hesitate to fight to defend the deal if necessary.”
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Activision shares were down about 4% in extended trading.
Microsoft announced the deal in January, in the game industry’s largest deal in history.
Microsoft has given the following statement to FOX Business.
“As we’ve said before, we stand ready to address the concerns of regulators, including the FTC, and Sony to ensure the deal closes with confidence. We will still track Sony and Tencent in the market after the deal closes, and together Activision and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more resilient.” The competition .. “
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The European Union opened a full investigation earlier this month. The EU competition enforcement said it would decide by March 23, 2023, whether to remove or block the deal.