The chair of the FTC may be willing to approve Microsoft‘s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard to avoid a messy vote split, it’s claimed.
A new report by the New York Post cites FTC insiders who claimed that of the four-person panel currently investigating the proposed deal, two may be looking to side with Microsoft.
This would reportedly not be ideal for FTC chair Lina Khan, who insiders claim was looking to potentially either block the deal or take it to court in order to show the FTC’s dedication to reining in the power of large tech companies.
According to the report, the panel consists of three Democrat members and one Republican. The latter, Christine Wilson, has previously suggested she supports the proposed deal.
Now the New York Post’s source claims that at least one of the three Democrats is also leaning towards approving Microsoft, leading to a potential 2-2 vote or even more if other Democrats decide to back the deal.
Since this would potentially damage Khan’s attempt to block the deal or take it to court, it’s being claimed that she may prefer to agree a settlement in which Microsoft makes concessions.
This could be similar to the concessions Microsoft is reportedly expected to offer to EU regulators, as reported last week, including a 10-year Call of Duty licensing deal with Sony.
Speaking about the potential of a 2-2 vote or more, former FTC chairman William Kovacic told the New York Post: “Lina would probably not put things in a position for that to take place, so instead of having that vote she would make the motion to approve the settlement.
“The way out is to say, ‘We got a great deal and only got it because we’ve been badasses.’”
Kovacic also claimed that Microsoft’s offer to make concessions would weaken the FTC’s case if it decided to block the merger.
“What makes it difficult is when Microsoft goes to their friends in blue and says, ‘We have provided a package of solutions for all the perceived problems, and the folks at the FTC are being very unreasonable if they don’t take it,’” he explained.
According to a report published by Bloomberg last week, which cites a person familiar with the matter, Microsoft is prepared to fight in court should the US Federal Trade Commission attempt to block the Activision Blizzard deal.
The claim followed an earlier Politico report which alleged that the FTC was “likely to file an antitrust lawsuit” to block Microsoft‘s proposed takeover of the Call of Duty parent.
Activision Blizzard‘s CCO has also said the company “won’t hesitate to fight” to make sure Microsoft is successful in acquiring it.