Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, met with the chiefs of other antitrust enforcers this week, including those in Britain, but no mergers were reportedly addressed, according to an FTC official who spoke out amid claims that the FTC and UK are collaborating to thwart Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision.
Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of “Call of Duty” creator Activision Blizzard was halted on Wednesday by Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority because it would hurt competition in the burgeoning cloud gaming business.
The FTC official was responding to remarks made by the CEO of the game developer, Bobby Kotick, who told CNBC that he thought the American agency had pressured Britain’s CMA to halt the proposed transaction.
To stop the transaction, the FTC has complained. Microsoft has said it will take legal action against both regulators.
“I was surprised to learn that Lina Khan and the head of the CMA met a week and a half ago in Washington,” Kotick added. You are aware that discussing ongoing litigation is illegal. I’m not sure they did, though.
“I think that’s what you’re seeing now, that the CMA is being used as a tool by the FTC to be able to create these kinds of outcomes, and it this isn’t the way that they’re supposed to be operating,” he claimed.
The FTC officer, who was present at the virtual conference but was not authorized to comment on the record, stated that there were no discussions of any mergers being investigated or other ongoing investigations.
Any violation was emphatically denied by the FTC.
“There is no question in my mind that the FTC and the CMA or any other international authority conspired to analyze any proposed merger. Independent antitrust authorities can simply make their own decisions when a deal appears to be obviously anticompetitive, according to spokesperson Douglas Farrar.
The agency does collaborate with other antitrust enforcers, according to Farrar, and has done so for years under Republican and Democratic Chairs. The business community has always praised this approach. However, we never delegate our authority.
The CMA decision drew a vehement response from Microsoft President Brad Smith, who claimed that the move by the regulator “had shaken confidence” in Britain as a location for IT companies and was “probably the darkest day in our four decades in Britain.”
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