(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to file an antitrust complaint to block Microsoft Corp’s $69 billion takeover bid for video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc, Politico reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
A lawsuit challenging the deal is not guaranteed, and the four FTC commissioners have not yet dismissed a complaint or met with the companies’ attorneys, the report said, adding that FTC staff 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 cooperatively with regulators around the world to allow the transaction to proceed, but we will not hesitate to fight to defend the transaction if necessary,” a spokesperson said. Activision Blizzard. Any suggestion that the transaction could lead to anti-competitive effects is “completely absurd”, the spokesperson added.
Activision shares fell about 2% in extended trading after closing 1% higher.
Microsoft, maker of the Xbox game console, announced in January the deal to buy Activision, maker of the ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Candy Crush’ games, in the industry’s biggest deal. of gaming history as global tech giants claimed a virtual future.
Microsoft is betting on the acquisition to help it better compete with video game leaders Tencent and Sony.
The deal is also the subject of intense scrutiny outside the United States. The EU opened a full-scale investigation earlier this month. The EU competition authority said it would decide by March 23, 2023 whether to clear or block the deal.
Britain’s antitrust watchdog announced in September that it would launch a full-scale investigation.
The acquisition could hurt the industry if Microsoft refuses to give rivals access to Activision’s top-selling games, the UK antitrust regulator has said.
The deal drew criticism from Sony, maker of the Playstation console, citing Microsoft’s control over games like “Call of Duty”.
“Sony, as an industry leader, says it’s concerned about ‘Call of Duty’, but we’ve said we’re committed to making the same game available the same day on Xbox and PlayStation,” said 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 is completed in confidence. We will continue to follow Sony and Tencent into the market after the closing the deal, 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; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Leslie Adler)