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FTC probes Amazon's MGM deal as part of antitrust investigation

Illustration of a gavel handle made from the Amazon logo

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Amazon's $8.45 billion deal for MGM is again being scrutinized, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, as part of the Federal Trade Commissioner's "revamped" antitrust investigation into the tech giant.

Why it matters: Even though the deal closed in March, the FTC has said it could still challenge the acquisition — a step it appears the agency is gearing up to take.

State of play: FTC deputy director of competition John Newman has shaken up the team investigating Amazon, according to Bloomberg. Newman, a former Justice Department prosecutor, joined in December.

  • The new team is reinterviewing witnesses and asking specifically about the MGM acquisition and its effect on Amazon's Prime Video service, the article says.

The big picture: The Biden Administration's promise of a tougher stance on antitrust may finally be materializing.

  • The deadline for an Amazon challenge passed when the FTC was deadlocked at 2-2, and FTC chair Lina Khan lacked a majority to block the deal.
  • But Khan is now operating with a 3-2 majority, following the long-delayed confirmation of Alvaro Bedoya, a Democrat, sworn in on May 16.

What's next: If the FTC and DOJ are really going to make good on their promise of tougher antitrust enforcement, that could spell trouble for not just Amazon/MGM, but other major media deals in the review process like CAA/ICM and Microsoft/Activision Blizzard.

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