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MarketWatch: Microsoft’s Activision deal will be subject to FTC review: report

The U.S. government’s review of the pending merger between Microsoft Corp. and Activision Blizzard Inc. will be the responsibility of the Federal Trade Commission, according to a Bloomberg News report.

That the FTC plans to look into the merger instead of the Department of Justice is notable because FTC Chair Lina Khan is known for wanting a tougher approach to deals made by tech giants, per the report. The FTC sued to block Nvidia Corp.’s NVDA, -1.18% $40 billion deal for Arm Ltd., for example.

The Bloomberg report cited an unnamed source for the comments on the FTC’s jurisdiction over this deal review.

A spokesperson for the FTC said that the agency doesn’t comment on or confirm the existence of investigations. Microsoft MSFT, -1.40% didn’t immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on the review.

Microsoft announced its $69 billion deal for videogame publisher Activision Blizzard ATVI, +0.08% in mid-January. The company saw potential to grow its presence in mobile gaming and enhance its GamePass streaming service, but analysts suspected that the combination might face antitrust pushback given the potential for Microsoft to make future Activision titles exclusive to its Xbox platform.

Opinion: Microsoft faces battle for Activision deal, especially if ‘Call of Duty’ is destined for Xbox exclusivity

Microsoft’s gaming head Phil Spencer tweeted shortly after the deal announcement that Microsoft intended to “honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard” and expressed “desire to keep ‘Call of Duty’ on PlayStation,” which is the gaming console made by Sony.

Microsoft shares are off 1.3% in Tuesday morning trading, while Activision shares are ahead 0.5%. Activision’s stock recently changed hands at $79.44, below the $95 per-share price of the deal, suggesting that investors see a possibility that the deal won’t be completed. In comparison, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.24% tacked on 0.1%.

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