Microsoft to Meet with FTC Chair Lina Khan on Activision Deal
Microsoft Corp. executives are set to meet with US Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and other commissioners to make its final case in favor of its deal to buy Activision Blizzard.
Microsoft Corp. executives are set to meet with US Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and other commissioners Wednesday to make its final case in favor of its deal to buy gaming studio Activision Blizzard Inc., a person familiar with the meetings said.
The antitrust agency is nearing a decision on the $69 billion deal, which would make Xbox-maker Microsoft into the No. 3 gaming company globally. A so-called last rites meeting between the companies and the FTC's commissioners –- who make the final call and vote on any agency actions -– is often one of the last steps before either a lawsuit or a settlement are filed.
Microsoft President Brad Smith and other company executives are expected to attend the meetings, the person said, asking not to be named discussing the confidential probe.
FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar and a Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment.
Microsoft announced in January it planned to buy game publisher Activision Blizzard, which has developed popular franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. The acquisition would be the software maker's largest ever and one of the 30 biggest deals of all time.
Khan, a progressive former Columbia University Law School professor who took the helm of the FTC last year, has taken a more aggressive approach to merger enforcement during her tenure. She declined to discuss the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal at a conference Tuesday, citing the ongoing probe. But Khan denied that the FTC is opposed to mergers and said preserving innovation in emerging markets is a top priority.
“I think there can be this misperception that the FTC is somehow anti-deals,” she said at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Summit. But “when you have increased consolidation, increased concentration and declining competition, that can have a real adverse effect on innovation,” she said. “Incumbents and monopolists are not going to be incentivized to innovate and to really push the boundaries in the way that they are when they're facing robust competition.”
The deal also requires antitrust approval from officials in the UK and the European Union, who have raised concerns that Microsoft could withhold popular game titles from rival systems, particularly from Sony Group Corp.'s Playstation.
European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager said Tuesday on the sidelines of a conference in Washington that the EU hasn't started negotiating with the company over a possible remedy.