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Microsoft Deal for Activision to Be Reviewed by FTC in U.S.

Microsoft Deal for Activision to Be Reviewed by FTC in U.S.


ByDavid McLaughlin Bloomburg

February 1, 2022, 11:53 AM GMT+8Updated onFebruary 1, 2022, 11:52 PM GMT+8

The U.S. antitrust review of Microsoft Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc. will be handled by the Federal Trade Commission, according to a person familiar with the matter, putting the deal in the hands of an agency that has vowed more aggressive policing of deals.

The FTC will oversee the investigation into whether the takeover will harm competition, instead of the Justice Department, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the review. The two agencies share responsibility for antitrust reviews of mergers and often reach agreements about which one will investigate a deal.

FTC Chair Lina Khan has long advocated for a more forceful approach to reviewing deals, particularly by the biggest technology companies, which she says are able to leverage their dominance in one line of business to gain power in other markets. Under her leadership, the agency has sued to block two major takeovers — Nvidia Corp.’s proposed purchase of Arm Ltd. and Lockheed Martin Corp.’s deal to buy of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc.

Microsoft and the FTC declined to comment on the review.

Khan and her counterpart at the Justice Department, Jonathan Kanter, last month announced an effort to toughen merger reviews, saying a new framework is needed to combat a surge in deals that threatens to worsen already high concentration across industries. They said acquisitions by tech companies deserve particular attention.

The Activision investigation will focus on the combination of the company’s gaming portfolio with Microsoft’s consoles and hardware systems. Regulators are likely to look closely at how Microsoft’s ownership of Activision could harm rivals by limiting their access to the company’s biggest games.

Microsoft’s last significant takeover, a $17 billion deal to buy transcription software maker Nuance Communications Inc., was approved last summer by U.S. and European Union officials. The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority is still reviewing the transaction.

Posted from SLPRO Z

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