Nov. 23 (Reuters) – The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft. (MSFT.O) $69 billion bid for video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc (ATVI.O)Politico reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
A lawsuit challenging the deal is not warranted, and the FTC’s four commissioners have not yet voted on a complaint or met with attorneys for the companies, the report said, adding that FTC staffers reviewing the deal are skeptical of the companies’ arguments.
The FTC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
“We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with regulators around the world to allow the transaction to move forward, but we will not hesitate to fight to defend the transaction if necessary,” said an Activision Blizzard spokesperson. The spokesperson added that any suggestion that the deal could have anti-competitive effects is “absolutely absurd”.
Activision shares were down about 2% in extended trading, after closing up 1%.
Microsoft, the maker of the Xbox game console, announced in January a deal to buy Activision, maker of “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush” games, in the largest gaming industry deal in history as the global tech giants staked their claims to the virtual future. .
The deal also faces scrutiny outside the United States. The European Union opened a wide-ranging investigation earlier this month. The EU competition enforcement said it would decide by March 23, 2023, whether to remove or block the deal.
Britain’s antitrust watchdog said in September it would launch a full investigation.
Britain’s antitrust watchdog said the takeover could damage the industry if Microsoft refuses to give rivals access to Activision’s best-selling games.
The deal drew criticism from Sony, the maker of PlayStation devices, pointing to Microsoft’s control of games such as “Call of Duty”.
“Sony, as the industry leader, says it’s concerned about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we’re committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation,” Microsoft President and Vice President Brad Smith said.
A Microsoft spokesperson said: “We stand ready to address the concerns of regulators, including the FTC, and Sony to ensure the deal closes with confidence. We will continue to track Sony and Tencent in the market after the deal closes, and the Activision and Xbox community will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive.” “.
Additional reporting by Tiyashi Datta and Mrinmay Day in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kaluvella and Leslie Adler
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