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The FTC could still approve Microsoft's Activision deal with conditions, it's claimed

The FTC could still approve Microsoft's Activision deal with conditions

The FTC's chair may be willing to approve Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard in order to avoid a messy vote split, according to reports.

According to FTC insiders, two of the four people on the panel looking into the proposed merger may be leaning toward siding with Microsoft, according to a recent report by the New York Post.

This would reportedly not be ideal for FTC chair Lina Khan, who was reportedly looking to either block the deal or take it to court to demonstrate the FTC's commitment to reining in the power of large tech companies.

The panel is made up of three Democrats and one Republican, according to the report. Christine Wilson, the latter, has previously stated her support for the proposed agreement.

According to the New York Post's source, at least one of the three Democrats is also leaning toward approving Microsoft, resulting in a 2-2 vote or even more if other Democrats decide to support the deal.

Because this could jeopardize Khan's ability to block the deal or take it to court, it's speculated that she may prefer to reach an agreement in which Microsoft makes concessions.

This could be similar to the concessions Microsoft is expected to offer to EU regulators, including a 10-year Call of Duty licensing deal with Sony, as reported last week.

In response to the possibility 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 happen, 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.'"

Microsoft's offer to make concessions, according to Kovacic, would make the FTC's case for blocking the merger less compelling.

"What makes it difficult is when Microsoft goes to their blue friends and says, 'We have provided a package of solutions for all the perceived problems, and the folks at the FTC are being extremely unreasonable if they don't take it,'" he explained.

According to a Bloomberg report last week citing a person familiar with the matter, Microsoft is prepared to fight the Activision Blizzard deal in court if the US Federal Trade Commission attempts to block it.

The claim followed an earlier Politico report claiming that the FTC was "likely to file an antitrust lawsuit" to prevent Microsoft from acquiring the parent company of Call of Duty.

Activision Blizzard's CCO has also stated that the company "will not hesitate to fight" to ensure Microsoft's acquisition is successful.

When will Microsoft Activision deal close?

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick believes Microsoft's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of the Call of Duty publisher will be done by June 2023.

In a letter to employees, Kotick stated that the company is working with Microsoft to allay any concerns regulators may have about the deal.

How much was the Microsoft Activision deal?

Microsoft has accused Sony, its main video game competitor, of deceiving regulators. Its lawyers have shown British officials game consoles, including an Xbox. And the president of a major union that Microsoft courted has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on the company's behalf.

The moves are part of Microsoft's campaign to deflect attention away from its $69 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard, the largest consumer technology transaction since AOL bought Time Warner two decades ago and far larger than Elon Musk's recent $44 billion buying of Twitter.

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