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FTC reportedly opens investigation into Amazon's MGM deal

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Friday opened a probe into Amazon's recent purchase of MGM, suggesting a long slog is ahead for the e-commerce giant.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Information reports the FTC is now investigating the $8.45 billion deal that was announced in May. The probe could last six or more months.

As noted in the report, the deal does not appear to present obvious competition concerns. According to sources, the FTC is focusing on the wider scope of Amazon's growing market power and whether the deal will exacerbate the situation. Specifically, the FTC is investigating how the deal might illegally goose Amazon's ability to market a wide array goods and services, the report said.

Today's news is expected, as reports in June indicated that the FTC and Department of Justice had decided that the FTC would have jurisdiction to look into Amazon's MGM buy. The DOJ typically investigates media-related deals, but the FTC has been investigating Amazon for years.

According to the report, sources familiar with the FTC's ongoing Amazon probe said the company's product rankings system and promotion of first-party products are focuses of the ongoing review. The latter issue will potentially be addressed by Congress as part of a package of proposed legislation designed to rein in powerful technology companies.

Two FTC teams are reportedly handling the investigation. The Technology Enforcement Division is said to be taking on the wider antitrust issue, while the Mergers III team, responsible for the energy industry and a handful of other sectors, is reviewing the MGM deal, the report said. Staff from other units were also asked to volunteer on the review.

Taken as a whole, the actions suggests the FTC is ready to aggressively examine large industry mergers and acquisitions. That should come as no surprise considering antitrust scholar Lina Khan was recently appointed chair of the body.

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