As is well known, Microsoft’s planned purchase of publisher Activision and all associated brands is now only dependent on the antitrust authorities around the world. Of course, the US FTC plays a special role in this – but for a certain reason it will probably not intervene decisively in the end.
The takeover of Activision is apparently becoming more and more likely for Microsoft. After the chair of the US antitrust authority, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), had recently touted that he wanted to put a stop to the deal, according to a new report by the New York Post probably different in the meantime. By blocking the takeover, Chairwoman Lina Khan wanted to make it clear that the authority can also compete with tech giants – but the shot probably backfires for internal reasons.
Reason: Khan obviously does not bring together a majority within the FTC to reject the deal and, in the worst case, to end up in a major lawsuit. Accordingly, the situation among those entitled to vote was probably deadlocked. It is 2: 2 among the four decision-makers – but such a draw is not enough for Khan to go all out. Since the options of the chairmen are severely limited, Microsoft can probably complete the deal in the USA without having to go to court at all.
If it is apparent that there will be a documented tie, Khan should not even submit the matter for an official vote, because that would finally confirm the takeover. At the same time, unless even the FTC votes to reject the deal, the US government would be pretty toothless in a potential legal battle.
The way out for Khan: Microsoft should at least be persuaded to accommodate its big competitor Sony. Using this political route, the chairwoman wants to persuade Microsoft to make concessions outside of a courtroom in order to save face and then finally approve the deal under different circumstances.
The EU had previously asked Microsoft to make concessions to Sony. The rumors about an assurance that Call of Duty, for example, will also appear on the PlayStation for at least 10 more years has now been documented. Microsoft President Brad Smith confirmed to the Wall Street Journal such an offer to Sony is now official – and this should at least satisfy the antitrust authorities in the USA and Europe.
For the Activision deal to go through, Microsoft and around the world need at least 16 green lights from antitrust authorities. So far, Serbia, Saudi Arabia and Brazil have agreed to the purchase, and other institutions are likely to follow in view of the new developments.