Sources with Bloomberg have learned that the U.S. antitrust review of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest developers in the gaming industry, will be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) instead of the Justice Department.
While both agencies bear the responsibility of enforcing the country’s antitrust laws, the FTC has won the privilege of leading the charge on investigating whether the terms of Microsoft’s pricey deal, which is valued at $68.7 billion, might harm competition in the lucrative video games industry.
The proposed acquisition is expected to undergo severe scrutiny based on what the FTC and its chair, Lina Khan, have recently dished out against other corporate giants that have attempted major takeovers.
“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,” Bloomberg noted in its coverage. “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.”
“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 confirmed its intention to buy Activision Blizzard in a surprise announcement on the morning of January 18, one that reminded Xbox fans of all of the incredible new IPs that would be at the company’s disposal following the acquisition.
They include Call of Duty, Warcraft, Candy Crush, Tony Hawk, Diablo, Overwatch, Spyro, Hearthstone, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot, StarCraft and more.