The US antitrust review of Microsoft’s $68.7 billion (roughly Rs. 5,10,990 crore) proposed acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard Inc will be handled by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Bloomberg News reported late on Monday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The FTC, instead of the Justice Department, will investigate whether the takeover will harm competition, the report said.

In a bid to toughen merger guidelines, the FTC and the Justice Department had last month jointly said that industries had become increasingly concentrated and a surge in merger filings in 2020 and 2021 signaled the situation will worsen.

Days later, the FTC voted unanimously to sue to block arms maker Lockheed Martin’s proposed $4.4 billion (roughly Rs. 32,890 crore) purchase of rocket engine maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings over antitrust concerns.

Microsoft, Activision, and FTC did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The deal announced by Microsoft in January is its biggest-ever and is set to be the largest all-cash acquisition on record. It will bolster Microsoft’s firepower in the booming videogaming market where it takes on leaders Tencent and Sony.

Meanwhile, Sony said on Monday it will acquire Bungie, the original creator of the Halo videogame and developer of Destiny, in a deal valued at $3.6 billion (roughly Rs. 26,910 crore), the latest in a wave of consolidations sweeping the gaming sector.

Microsoft has so far avoided the type of scrutiny faced by Alphabet and Meta Platforms, but this deal, which would make it the world’s third largest gaming company, will put the Xbox maker on lawmakers’ radars, said Andre Barlow of the law firm Doyle, Barlow & Mazard, after the deal was announced.

Reuters previously reported that Microsoft would pay a $3 billion (roughly Rs. 22,420 crore) break-fee if the deal falls through, according to a source familiar with the matter, suggesting the company was confident of winning antitrust approval.

Microsoft and Activision gave themselves until June 2023 to complete the transaction.

© Thomson Reuters 2022



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