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FTC ‘likely to file antitrust lawsuit’ to block Microsoft’s Activision deal, report claims

The Federal Trade Commission is “likely to file an antitrust lawsuit” to block Microsoft‘s takeover of Activision Blizzard, according to a new report.

According to three sources cited by Politico, FTC Chair Lina Khan is looking to “reign in the power of the world’s largest technology companies.”

The report goes on to state that while the lawsuit challenging the deal isn’t certain, several within the FTC are “sceptical of the companies’ arguments.”

The FTC and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment, it’s claimed.

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Were the FTC to proceed, it would be a major blow to Microsoft, which is currently fighting across the pond against concerns raised by the UK regulator, the CMA.

An antitrust lawsuit would mean that Microsoft would also have to fight to push forward its acquisition of the Call of Duty maker in US courts.

The FTC was expected to rule on Microsoft‘s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by late November.

The European Commission has officially launched an in-depth probe of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

As expected, following its initial inquiries into the $68.7 billion deal, the European watchdog said earlier this month that it had opened a ‘phase II’ investigation due to competition concerns.

The deal has been approved by regulators in Saudi Arabia and Brazil, but the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority also recently expanded its investigation to a second phase. It is in the process of inviting members of the public to share their views on the acquisition before giving its final decision by March 1.

Politico reports that depositions of Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and Activision head Bobby Kotick have already taken place and that if the FTC plans to move forward against the deal, the case could be brought as soon as next month.

“Central to the FTC’s concerns is whether acquiring Activision would give Microsoft an unfair boost in the video game market,” according to the report. These concerns echo those raised by the CMA, specifically in relation to the Call of Duty franchise.

Microsoft’s head of gaming  Phil Spencer said last month that he believes heavy scrutiny from regulators is “fair” and “warranted”, and that he remains confident the deal will be approved.

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