Report: FTC rift could help Microsoft seal Activision Blizzard deal

A newly-reported split within the Federal Trade Commission could result in the approval of Microsoft's proposed Activision Blizzard merger.

The Federal Trade Commission is now reportedly split on whether or not to approve Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

According to The New York Post, a rift has formed within the U.S. regulator that could pave the way for the seismic $68.7 billion deal to gain approval.

Last month, Politico reported that the FTC was "likely" planning a lawsuit that could halt the acquisition, and suggested the suit might be filed before the end of 2022.

It was claimed that those within the FTC tasked with reviewing the deal were "skeptical" of the arguments presented by Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, both of whom are currently attempting to pursue regulators around the world to give the acquisition the go-ahead.

Although Politico indicated the FTC was preparing to oppose the deal, the New York Post now claims that at least one Democrat on the four-member panel assessing the move has adopted a "sympathetic view" of the merger.

A source close to the situation, who spoke with The Post, has suggested that could make it tough for FTC Chair Lina Khan to block the deal—which has already received support from the FTC's single Republican commissioner, Christine Wilson.

"Some of the Democrats might be more comfortable with a settlement," said the insider, who added that such a move could see the FTC approve the purchase if Microsoft and Activision Blizzard agree to certain concessions.

Recent reports suggest Microsoft could be willing to agree to some trade-offs, with Reuters reporting that the company has offered Sony a 10-year licensing deal for Call of Duty in a bid to appease European antitrust regulators.

In a statement provided to The Post, a Microsoft spokesperson reiterated the company's willingness to work with regulators to get the deal over the line.

"As we have said before, we are prepared to address the concerns of regulators, including the FTC, and Sony to ensure the deal closes with confidence," they said. "We’ll still trail Sony and Tencent in the market after the deal closes, and together Activision and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive.'

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