June 22, 2021
Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio, including the lucrative “James Bond” movie franchise, will reportedly be reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and its just-confirmed chair Lina Khan.
Per policy, mega corporate mergers are scrutinized by federal antitrust divisions within either the Justice Department or the FTC. The latter reportedly sought review of the Amazon/MGM deal as part of a separate antitrust investigation of Amazon, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources familiar with the situation.
The FTC has made no official announcement.
Prior to becoming chair of the FTC, Khan, 32, was an associate professor of Law at Columbia Law School. She also previously served as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, legal adviser to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, and legal director at the Open Markets Institute.
More importantly, Khan, who was born in London, has reportedly been a longtime critic of what she characterizes as lax antitrust enforcement within the technology market, especially among giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.
“Lina has been very clear-eyed in recognizing that the core questions have to do with power, with the ability of private entities to coerce and to bully,” Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the advocacy group Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told The Journal in May.
How the Amazon/MGM merger might negatively affect consumers remains an unknown. The two companies do not deal with entities vital to consumers such as telecommunications or pay-TV — two issues former President Trump’s DOJ cited in their failed legal objections to AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.
In fact, the Amazon/MGM asset merger deals largely with the acquisition of catalog movies, TV shows and franchise rights — not the type of commodities that typically invite much regulatory concern. But with Amazon’s massive fiscal resources — founder/chairman Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person — and forays into different markets worldwide, the ecommerce behemoth’s moves are apparently garnering increased scrutiny.