Microsoft president Brad Smith to meet with FTC over $69 billion Activision deal: sources

Mr. Smith is headed to Washington — and the hope is that Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision will be approved by the feds.

Microsoft President Brad Smith plans to meet with three Democratic members of the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday in a last-ditch bid to keep the tech giant’s blockbuster video game deal from being scrapped over antitrust concerns, The Post reported.

Smith and a small group of lawyers are scheduled to meet privately with FTC Chairwoman Lina Hahn — who is skeptical of the tie-up and has vowed to scrutinize the deal’s impact on workers this summer, as well as Democratic commissioners. According to sources close to the situation, Rebecca Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya.

The Post reported Sunday that at least one Democrat on the four-member panel was sympathetic to the recent merger — insiders suggested it might be Slaughter — paving the way for its approval. FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson, a Republican, has already supported the deal.

Smith and a small group of his attorneys are scheduled to meet privately with FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan — who is skeptical of the connection.
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Sources say Microsoft is scrambling to win Smith a powerful panel in a hurry — in part because Khan is pregnant and expected to go on maternity leave next month.

“Rais Khan is expecting a baby in January and will be taking a short period of parental leave before quickly returning to her duties,” FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar said. “The idea that any law enforcement action by the Commission could be affected by her pregnancy is a sexist and absurd assumption that has no basis in fact.”

The sources said FTC commissioners are scheduled to hold a closed-door meeting Thursday to discuss the merger, and there’s an outside chance they could vote on it.

The panel could also meet later this month to vote on the deal. Microsoft had believed the FTC would issue its final decision in the first quarter of 2023, but the FTC’s review has recently moved faster than expected, the source said.

A spokesman for Activision declined to comment. Microsoft also declined to comment.

Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty
Microsoft is now offering rival Sony a 10-year license deal for Activision games, including Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sources said Smith – wrote on Monday The Wall Street Journal argues for this deal — Microsoft says it is now offering rival Sony a 10-year license deal for Activision games, including Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles, and that the games will be released on Microsoft’s Xbox at the same time .

Sony’s concern is that Microsoft, a leading console maker and popular video game developer, could have too much market power.

In separate weeks, America’s communications workers backed the deal, as 300 workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax game studio are voting this month to form Microsoft’s first union.

Activision Blizzard logo
Microsoft has agreed to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion.
Future Publishing via Getty Images

The CWA said the merger would give Microsoft and Activision Blizzard workers a clear path to collective bargaining and unionization in what it sees as a major concession for Microsoft. A politically influential union says the deal is good for workers and that they will be hurt if the FTC sues to block the merger.

According to The Post, a fellow Democrat who supports the Microsoft deal could create a difficult path for FTC Chairman Khan to block the deal — who insiders say saw the Microsoft deal as a top target because he believes wanted to burn their data. Big technology.

That’s because the 2-2 vote would not only block the deal, but would result in it being resolved without any significant conditions imposed by the deal, including the concessions it recently promised Sony.

FTC officials reportedly came close to recommending a suit to block the deal, but that was before Microsoft announced its settlement offer.

Microsoft agreed to pay $95 per share for Activision. Its shares traded at $76.11 on Tuesday


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