Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is not yet a done deal, and one hurdle it has to clear is an antitrust investigation. It’s now been reported that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, rather than the Justice Department, will handle the investigation (thanks, Bloomberg). The Microsoft acquisition would be the biggest in the company’s history.
The FTC has under the Biden administration promised to toughen-up on its policing of such deals, and last month issued a joint statement with the Justice Department noting concern at the increased concentration of industries alongside an increase in merger filings in 2020/2021. Shortly afterwards it voted to sue to block arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s $4.4 billion purchase of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings over antitrust concerns.
FTC Chair Lina Khan has advocated for a more aggressive approach to tech companies, which she has said are able to use their dominance in one sector to take over others. The FTC has most notably been involved recently in Nvidia’s ill-fated attempt to acquire Arm. Whether that leads to anything here remains to be seen.