Republican lawmakers urge FTC to drop fight against Microsoft deal for Activision

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twenty-two Republican lawmakers urged the Federal Trade Commission to drop its fight against Microsoft’s deal to buy video game maker Activision Blizzard, calling it “an example of the FTC’s rejection of sound antitrust policy.”

The lawmakers, all members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in a letter sent on Monday to FTC Chair Lina Khan and two commissioners and publicly released on Tuesday, said the proposed deal is a “pro-competitive transaction.”

The agency, which enforces antitrust law, is considering its options after a U.S. District Court judge ruled last week that the deal was legal and an appeals court declined an emergency motion to pause the transaction.

In response to the losses, the lawmakers, said: “We write to express our concerns, and to urge you to drop this matter.”

Microsoft, maker of the Xbox video game console, has been fighting for months to save the $69 billion deal, which was criticized by U.S. and British antitrust enforcers, but appears close to finalizing it. The acquisition of “Call of Duty” video game maker Activision would be Microsoft’s biggest ever and the largest in the history of the video game industry.

Among the letter’s signatories are James Comer, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and Jim Jordan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which last week grilled Khan over court fights that the FTC pursued and lost over multi-billion-dollar mergers.

The FTC confirmed receipt of the letter but otherwise declined comment. Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The latest, and most egregious, example of the FTC’s rejection of sound antitrust policy was the decision to seek a preliminary injunction against a procompetitive transaction, Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision,” the lawmakers wrote.

“For two decades, Microsoft’s Xbox business has been the much smaller challenger in the video game publishing and video game console markets,” they added. “The addition of Activision’s portfolio is intended to help Xbox make these games available to a wider set of consumers, especially those who prefer to play on mobile devices.”

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Leslie Adler)