Microsoft’s nearly $69 billion dollar proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard might be hitting a new snag, according to a report by Politico. There’s word that a federal antitrust lawsuit may be incoming, seeking to block the deal.
According to the report, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is readying a suit that could block the sale. A lawsuit is not guaranteed to happen, but the Politico report sources do say that the groundwork is being laid for one to happen next month.
“The investigation remains ongoing, but much of the heavy lifting is completed, including depositions of Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and Activision head Bobby Kotick, the people with knowledge of the investigation said. If the agency does move ahead with a case, it could come as soon as next month, said the people, all of whom were granted anonymity to discuss a confidential matter.”
Ever since the deal was announced, it has come under lots of scrutiny, with some expressing early doubt that such a huge acquisition could even be allowed to happen. One of the questions that has continued over the time since the acquisition plans were announced is whether Microsoft would mandate platform exclusivity. And if the company did that, would it hurt competitors’ businesses?
This has come up a lot in the Call of Duty question, as in whether Sony would lose access to one of gaming’s top franchises to an exclusivity mandate, should the deal go through. There have since been attempts by Microsoft to reassure those looking into the deal, with regulators around the world examining the deal, including an advanced review set for the UK. When it comes to Call of Duty, Microsoft has given Sony a few potential windows before any exclusivity might happen, including a reported most recent offer of 10 years.
Sony does maintain that if the deal goes through, that it would be harmful to its ability to compete in the market.
Should the FTC decide to move forward, it would join the UK and Europe in looking at the deal under more critical scrutiny. If a suit is filed next month, it might even upend the deal entirely. As stated in the Politico analysis, If the deal does not close by next July, it would have to be renegotiated entirely. If a lawsuit is filed in December or January, it would not likely be over by the July deadline.