According to reports, the US Federal Trade Commission seems to be pushing toward approving Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In the past, the FTC’s participation in the transaction has been an issue for Microsoft, which is under regulatory clearance everywhere else and strict scrutiny in the UK. A lawsuit was likely, with the ability to either prevent the transaction or secure significant concessions. The FTC panel that will determine whether or not to approve the purchase, according to a new report by the New York Post, suddenly seems more inclined to do so.
The four-person panel seems to have previously been three to one against the arrangement, with Christine Wilson, the commission’s lone Republican, being the lone supporter. That has allegedly now equalised, with one of the commission’s Democrats seeming to swap allegiances. This implies, to cut a long political story short, that the FTC chair is now likely to accept the agreement, albeit there is still a chance for compromises.
Microsoft has made it clear that it would be willing to make compromises as part of the negotiation process, perhaps formalizing some of the verbal commitments Xbox CEO Phil Spencer has been making in recent weeks. According to former FTC chairman William Kovacic, this, together with Microsoft’s familiarity with US politics and recent success in business, currently puts the likelihood of the acquisition being approved at “70 percent.”
Regulators in Saudi Arabia and Brazil have approved the Activision merger, while the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has opted to conduct a second round of its inquiry. In order to get everyone’s perspectives before making a decision, it is currently seeking public comment on the purchase. The planned merger between Activision and Microsoft has encountered several obstacles as a result of opposition from a number of IT giants and experts. It will be interesting to watch how Microsoft handles this situation.