European Union officials have unconditionally approved Amazon’s $845 million bid to buy popular movie and TV studio MGM. The European Commission’s antitrust regulators have determined that there was limited overlap between the companies and said the merger would not severely reduce competition in the theatrical film and audio-visual space.
“The Commission found that MGM’s upstream activities as a producer and licensor of AV content are limited compared to other market players’ activities; MGM’s content cannot be considered as must-have; and a wide variety of alternative content exists,” the EC said. It also noted that MGM’s movies account for a limited share of box office revenue in the European Economic Area and that “overall MGM is not among the top production studios, despite its rights over successful film franchises such as James Bond.”
However, Amazon still needs the approval from the Federal Trade Commission before it can seal the deal. Recent reports seem to indicate that the FTC was planning to challenge the merger with an antitrust lawsuit, but that requires a majority vote by commissioners.
The deadline for a decision on the proposed MGM buyout is said to be quickly approaching, apparently sometime in mid-March. If the FTC doesn’t press a legal challenge by then, Amazon could be free to proceed with the merger after all.
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