Nov 23 (Reuters) – The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to file an antitrust suit to block Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) $69 billion takeover bid for video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc (ATVI.O), reported Politico on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
A lawsuit to challenge the deal is not guaranteed, and the FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote down a complaint or meet with lawyers for the companies, the report said, adding that FTC officials reviewing the deal are skeptical against the arguments of the companies.
The FTC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
“We are committed to continuing to work with regulators around the world to allow the transaction to go through, but will not hesitate to fight to defend the transaction if necessary,” said an Activision Blizzard spokesperson. Any suggestion that the transaction could lead to anti-competitive effects is “completely absurd,” the spokesperson added.
Shares of Activision fell about 2% in extended trading after closing 1% higher.
Microsoft, maker of the Xbox gaming console, announced in January the deal to buy Activision, maker of “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush” games, in the largest gaming industry deal in history when global technology giants assert their claims to a virtual future.
Microsoft is betting on the acquisition to better compete with video game leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T).
The deal is also under scrutiny outside the US. The EU opened a large-scale investigation earlier this month. The EU competition enforcer said it would decide by March 23, 2023 whether to approve or block the deal.
Britain’s antitrust watchdog said in September it would launch a full-scale investigation.
The acquisition could hurt the industry if Microsoft refuses to give rivals access to Activision’s best-selling games, the UK antitrust regulator said.
The deal has drawn criticism from Sony, maker of the Playstation console, citing Microsoft’s control over games like “Call of Duty”.
“Sony, as the market leader, says it is concerned about ‘Call of Duty,’ but we said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day for both Xbox and PlayStation,” Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smit said. said.
A spokesperson for Microsoft said: “We are prepared to address concerns from regulators, including the FTC, and Sony to ensure the deal is closed with confidence. We will continue to monitor Sony and Tencent in the market after the deal is done, and together Activision and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive.”
Reporting by Tiyashi Dattaa and Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Edited by Sriraj Kalluvila and Leslie Adler
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.