Microsoft-Activison deal VS giants: FTC suit to dissuade EU, secret Sony-EU meeting

January 27, 2023

The Federal Trade Commission and Sony Interactive Entertainment are two of the biggest hurdles Microsoft is facing to close the $69 billion Activision merger. New reports show how the agency and rival company are using their power to stop the deal in all possible ways.

A new report reveals that the FTC’s lawsuit, which was filed in December, actually has other aims beyond blocking the Microsoft-Activision deal using the agency’s decision. According to the individuals who shared the information with Bloomberg, the US regulator filed the suit hours after a call between EU and US officials, with the former indicating intention to start discussions regarding remedy for the merger concerns. To express its disapproval of the EU’s decision and “dissuade” the European counterpart from accepting remedies, the FTC filed the suit despite the EU not being open to settlement proposals until later in the process. Nonetheless, former Justice Department No. 2 antitrust official Barry Nigro commented that the move allowed the US agency to “get out in front of the Europeans in an effort to shape the narrative.”

Both watchdogs refused to comment regarding the latest revelation.

On the other hand, while the FTC only expressed its point to the EU through a drastic lawsuit move, Sony seems to be taking bolder steps to voice its opinion regarding the merger. According to Reuters, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan met with EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager on Wednesday to discuss the merger. As the report notes, the meeting was held with the EU still preparing to warn Microsoft this week about the potential anti-competitive effects of the deal in the gaming industry.

Sources of Reuters didn’t provide details about the talks or identify the party that initiated the meeting. Nonetheless, given Sony’s initial and current stand regarding the deal, one thing is for sure: Ryan was there to continuously express Sony’s protest against the merger.

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