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Amazon-MGM to be reviewed by FTC led by tech critic

Lina Khan, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, speaks during a Senate confirmation hearing in April.
(Associated Press)

Amazon.com Inc.’s takeover of movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will be reviewed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which is now led by one of the most prominent critics of dominant technology companies.

The FTC will oversee the antitrust investigation of the deal instead of the Justice Department, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Amazon said it will buy MGM, acquiring popular franchises such as ‘James Bond’ and ‘The Pink Panther.’

Lina Khan, a former Columbia Law School professor who is an outspoken advocate of aggressive enforcement against tech platforms, took over as chairwoman of the FTC last week after she was confirmed by the Senate.

The $8.45-billion MGM deal — giving Amazon access to a library of more than 4,000 movies and storied franchises, including “James Bond,” “Rocky” and “The Pink Panther” — will pose an early test for Khan’s antitrust agenda. She wrote an influential 2017 paper as a law student at Yale University titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which traced how the online retailer came to control key infrastructure of the digital economy and how traditional antitrust analysis failed to consider the danger to competition that the company posed.

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The FTC declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the FTC’s review of the deal.

Unlocking MGM’s valuable library will be harder than it sounds, according to people familiar with the company.

The proposed acquisition drew criticism from those worried about the growth of tech companies, but antitrust experts have said it will be difficult for regulators to stop.

The FTC previously cleared Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. after finding no competition concerns.

Amazon and its tech peers have bought hundreds of companies in the last decade, none of which has been stopped by antitrust enforcers in the U.S. Their buying spree has triggered criticism that antitrust cops aren’t being aggressive enough to challenge the companies. It’s also fueling calls for new legislation that would revise antitrust laws.


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