The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Amazon’s acquisition of MGM, The Information reported Friday. The Information describes the probe as an “in-depth investigation into the deal,” which could signal that it will stretch on for many months. The investigation also means the deal will be scrutinized by an FTC newly headed up by Lina Khan, an antitrust advocate and an Amazon critic.
The FTC is focused on “the larger implications of the deal for Amazon’s market power,” The Information reported based on information from two people who knew of the probe, and that “the FTC is wary of whether the deal will illegally boost Amazon’s ability to offer a wide array of goods and services, and is not just limited to content production and distribution.”
It was widely expected the deal might get investigated
Amazon announced that it had reached a deal to acquire MGM, the studio behind the James Bond franchise, for $8.45 billion on May 26th, but it was widely expected that the merger would receive extra scrutiny from the government. On June 22nd, The Wall Street Journal had reported that the investigation was in the works, and Senator Elizabeth Warren called on the agency to give the deal a “meticulous” review in a letter addressed to Khan and shared exclusively with The Verge on June 29th.
The FTC declined to comment, and Amazon has not replied to a request for comment.
The probe is the latest signal of increased antitrust scrutiny from the Biden administration. And Khan has scrutinized Amazon for years, publishing an article titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” for the Yale Law Journal in 2017 that was popular in progressive economic policy circles. (Amazon is, unsurprisingly, not a fan of Khan, and has filed a recusal motion calling for her to restrict herself from proceedings involving Amazon.)
Earlier Friday, Biden signed an executive order meant to promote competition that targets right to repair rules, net neutrality, and more.