Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Activision-Blizzard is currently being reviewed by competition regulators in various countries, but despite previous (and existing) objections, the US Federal Trade Commission now looks likely to approve the deal. The news comes from the New York Post, which quotes former FTC Chairman William Kovacic as saying the deal is 70% likely to go ahead.
There’s a political network involved, but the short version is that inside sources say Microsoft won another member of the FTC’s four-person panel, meaning any vote on whether to file a lawsuit would result in an equal split which would actually OK the deal. This would reduce the authority of current FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan over the body to prevent her from letting Microsoft deal with it.
On the right, the long version: of the four commissioners of the FTC, three are Democrats. The lone Republican had previously indicated his support for the deal, and now, according to the post’s sources, “some Democrats may be more comfortable with a settlement,” arguing for concessions rather than blocking the deal altogether. . Sources say Khan had lobbied to block the merger, but rather than face a tie vote, she is more likely to approve the deal while claiming any concessions as a victory.
The Post claims their DC sources say last year’s Speaker Rebecca Slaughter is the reluctant Democrat, based in part on her history of working with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer – who has recently met with Microsoft President Brad Smith. “That’s when Schumer calls his old protege and says, ‘What’s up? “, According to Kovacic (the former former chairman of the FTC, continue.)
Microsoft also now seems willing to make some strong concessions, apparently agreeing to a 10-year licensing deal with Sony to continue selling Call Of Duty games on Playstation following pressure from European regulators. These concessions make it much harder for the FTC to oppose the merger. They should make a decision by mid-December.
That’s a shame. As Alice Bee will tell you, further consolidation of the games industry is undesirable.
Activision Blizzard is currently the subject of a number of legal actions, labor disputes and allegations of workplace harassment. Rock Paper Shotgun will continue to write about these issues, as well as cover Activision Blizzard games as part of our commitment to cover topics of interest to our readers. The latest news can always be found under our Activision Blizzard tag.