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Amazon closes deal to acquire MGM

Amazon.com Inc. closed its $6.5 billion acquisition of the MGM movie and television studio on Thursday, even as the Federal Trade Commission continues to examine the deal.

The move comes after Amazon certified to the FTC that it had provided all the information requested by antitrust investigators reviewing the transaction. That step put the deal on a regulatory clock with the agency that has now expired, leaving the company free to move forward, a person familiar with the matter said.

Amazon provided the FTC with more than three million documents over the past eight months as part of the review process, the person familiar with the matter said.

Even though the deadline has expired, the commission would still have the ability to challenge the acquisition later, if a majority on the FTC votes to do so. The five-member commission is currently split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans, with one vacancy. A President Biden nominee for the open seat remains pending in the Senate.

An FTC spokeswoman declined to comment specifically on the Amazon deal but noted that the commission “may challenge a deal at any time if it determines that it violates the law.”

Amazon didn’t comment on the FTC’s review in its announcement of the deal’s completion.

The FTC’s investigation has been closely watched because the commission’s chairwoman, Lina Khan, has long been a vocal critic of Amazon. In 2017, while still a law student at Yale, Ms. Khan published a law-review article that raised concerns about Amazon’s market power and argued the government had failed to restrain the company. Ms. Khan later worked as legal counsel to a congressional antitrust subcommittee that led a 16-month investigation into four technology companies including Amazon.

Last summer, Amazon filed a motion requesting that Ms. Khan recuse herself from antitrust-related investigations of the company. The FTC hasn’t commented on that request.

European regulators approved the deal earlier this week, saying that the transaction wouldn’t significantly reduce competition.

The deal marks Amazon’s second-largest acquisition in its history, following its 2017 deal to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.

The deal closes as the technology company remains under intense antitrust scrutiny because of its size and power in a number of different industries. Beyond the FTC’s review of the merger, the agency is taking a broader look at Amazon’s operations.

Last week, a U.S. congressional committee asked the Justice Department to investigate Amazon and some of its executives for what lawmakers say is potentially criminal obstruction of Congress related to the committee’s investigation into Amazon’s clout.

MGM will be part of Amazon’s Prime Video and Studios unit and will be overseen by Senior Vice President Mike Hopkins. Amazon didn’t announce any additional leadership structures for the studio’s operations. Amazon said it isn’t planning any layoffs at the studio.

With MGM, Amazon will add 4,000 films to its holdings including the iconic James Bond franchise. MGM also has a deep library of 17,000 episodes of television content. Amazon is investing heavily to boost its Prime Video platform, which is competing against Netflix Inc., NFLX 2.48% Walt Disney Co. DIS 0.60% ’s Disney+ and other large rivals.

“MGM has a nearly century long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience,” Mr. Hopkins said in a statement.

Entertainment isn’t the only area where Amazon is increasing its video presence. The company is investing heavily in sports. Last year, it struck a deal with the National Football League for exclusive national video rights to Thursday Night Football at a price tag of around $1 billion per-season, people familiar with the matter said.

Amazon is nearing a deal to have legendary broadcaster Al Michaels anchor its Thursday football coverage, people close to the announcer and company have said.

Amazon also is kicking the tires on the NFL’s “Sunday Ticket” rights, a TV package that provides subscribers access to every game during the regular season, people close to the league and company said. Satellite broadcaster DirecTV is the current rights holder, and its deal expires after the 2022-23 season. The Wall Street Journal

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