Microsoft’s Activision Deal Hangs on Long-Shot FTC Accord Team Biden Hates

(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp.’s best chance to win approval for its $69 billion Activision Blizzard Inc. deal from US regulators is to persuade the Biden administration to accept a settlement in which the Xbox maker pledges it won’t withhold its popular titles from rivals.

That’s a very long shot given Biden’s antitrust enforcers aren’t fond of such agreements -- especially after this month’s Ticketmaster blowup put the spotlight back on a failed 2010 Justice Department settlement with Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

Antitrust officials in the UK and Australia have raised concerns the takeover would give Microsoft an overwhelming advantage in cloud gaming, a nascent industry. That’s an area of particular sensitivity for Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, who earlier this year sued to block Meta Platforms Inc. from acquiring a popular fitness app to gain an edge in the fledgling virtual reality market.

Although Khan hasn’t commented specifically on the Activision deal, she said at an October conference that the FTC is focusing on ways digital platforms use mergers to maintain their dominance during periods of technical transitions.