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The Wall Street Journal: Amazon moves to force FTC’s hand on proposed MGM acquisition

Amazon.com Inc. has given the Federal Trade Commission a fast-approaching deadline to deliver a verdict on its proposed $6.5 billion acquisition of the MGM movie and television studio, a move that could make it difficult for the agency to challenge the deal before the tech giant completes it.

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recently certified to the FTC that it had provided all the information requested by antitrust investigators, according to people familiar with the matter. That certification triggered a ticking clock for the FTC that expires in mid-March, the people said. If the commission doesn’t file a legal challenge before the deadline, Amazon could be free to consummate the deal.

Amazon wouldn’t necessarily be clear of an FTC threat if the deadline expires, because the commission has the ability to challenge mergers and acquisitions after they close. And in recent months, the commission started warning some merger partners that their deals remained under investigation even after the legally mandated waiting period had expired. The commission also has opened a long-running investigation into the company’s business practices.

But Amazon’s closing of the MGM deal would reduce some uncertainty for the companies and allow Amazon to move forward with its plans. The FTC could still file suit, at which point the outcome would be determined by antitrust litigation that could drag on for months or years.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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