(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft Corp’s $69 billion takeover bid for video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter .
A lawsuit challenging the deal is not guaranteed, and the FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote on a complaint or meet with lawyers for the companies, the report said, adding that the FTC staff that reviews the market is skeptical about the companies’ arguments.
The FTC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
“We are committed to continuing to work with regulators around the world to allow the transaction to proceed, but we will not hesitate to fight to protect the transaction if necessary,” said an Activision Blizzard spokesperson. Any suggestion that the transaction could have anti-competitive effects is “absolutely absurd,” the spokesman said.
Activision shares fell about 2% in extended trading after closing 1% higher.
Microsoft, the maker of the Xbox game console, announced in January the deal to buy Activision, the maker of the “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush” games, in the biggest gaming deal in history as the global tech giants claims. virtual future.
Microsoft is betting on the acquisition to help it better compete with videogame leaders Tencent and Sony.
The market is also under scrutiny outside the US The EU opened a full-scale investigation earlier this month. The EU’s competition enforcer said it would decide by March 23, 2023, whether to clear or block the deal.
Britain’s antitrust watchdog said in September it would launch a full-scale probe.
The acquisition could damage the industry if Microsoft refused to give competitors access to Activision’s best-selling games, Britain’s antitrust regulator said.
The deal has drawn criticism from Sony, the maker of the Playstation console, citing Microsoft’s control over games like “Call of Duty.”
“Sony, as the industry leader, says it’s worried about ‘Call of Duty,’ but we said we’re committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation,” Microsoft President and Vice- Chairman Brad Smith has said it.
A spokesperson for Microsoft said: “We are willing to address the concerns of regulators, including the FTC, and Sony to ensure that the deal closes in confidence. We will continue to have Sony and Tencent in the deal after the deal closes , and together Activision. and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive.”
(Reporting by Tiyashi Dattaa and Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Leslie Adler)