Amazon Closes Deal to Acquire MGM

From The Wall Street Journal: 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 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.

. . . .

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. Walt Disney Co. Disney+ and other large rivals.

. . . .

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.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (PG apologizes for the paywall, but hasn’t figured out a way around it.)

PG did a bit of Wikipedia research on Ms. Khan when he saw that she’s only five years out of law school.

From Wikipedia:

In 2017, while still a student at Yale Law School, Khan rose to prominence when the Yale Law Journal published her article “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”. The article made a significant impact in American legal and business circles, and the New York Times described it as “reframing decades of monopoly law”. In the article, Khan argued that the current American antitrust law framework, which focuses on keeping consumer prices down, cannot account for the anticompetitive effects of platform-based business models such as that of Amazon. The title of Khan’s piece was a reference to Robert Bork’s 1978 book The Antitrust Paradox, which established the consumer-welfare standard that Khan critiqued. She proposed alternative frameworks for antitrust policy, including “restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties.”

The article was met with both acclaim and criticism. As of September 2018, it received 146,255 hits, “a runaway best-seller in the world of legal treatises,” according to the New York Times. Joshua Wright, who served on the FTC from 2013 to 2015, derided her work as “hipster antitrust” and argued it “reveal[ed] a profound lack of understanding of the consumer welfare model and the rule of reason framework.” Herbert Hovenkamp, who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, wrote that Khan’s claims are “technically undisciplined, untestable, and even incoherent”, and that her work “never explains how a nonmanufacturing retailer such as Amazon could ever recover its investment in below cost pricing by later raising prices, and even disputes that raising prices to higher levels ever needs to be a part of the strategy, thus indicating that it is confusing predation with investment.”

Link to the rest at Wikipedia

5 thoughts on “Amazon Closes Deal to Acquire MGM”

  1. Open the pod bay doors, Alexa.

    I’m sorry, Dave, but any problems with your order must have been due to … human error.

    (Hint: Which studio made That Film and has it in its library?)

    • WB Discovery owns the rights. It’s available on HBOMAX.

      How they got it:
      1- In 1985 Ted Turner bought the entire classic MGM library, from day one. (He bought all of MGM but only kept tge valuable part: the library.)
      2- Turner in turn sold his entire empire to TimeWarner.
      3- Most recently, AT&T bought most of what was by tbem WarnerMedia (minus Warner books and Time which had been ditched by tgen.
      4- AT&T discovered that Warner made a ton of money but in the process it ate up a ton of money, only slightly smaller. And tbey had indigestion from eating up DirecTV. (Bad move, Bad, bad, bad.) Over $75B worth of debt load. And they were spending another ton of money deploying a 5G phone network to keep VERIZON at bay. Their solution: spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery, Inc, keeping a 51% share of tbe merged co for future sale.
      5- The merger was approved a week or so ago.

      What Amazon bought is the “new” MGM and its post ’85 library. Which is still plenty valuable.

      Me, all I care is Amazon got STARGATE and, as they proved with The Expanse, they know exactly what to do with premium SF franchises. Which kept it out of APPLE’s hands and prevented it ending as that abomination trying to pass for FOUNDATION.

      • Apple’s Foundation prompted me to reread the Foundation Trilogy. I don’t know where the Apple story came from.

        • If you squint you can infer somebody read a blurb for the one of the prequels and ran with it.

          FOUNDATION itself, the first volume in tbe core series, is unfilmable by Hollywood standards. It is a pure idea story based on the idea that individuals have no true agency over the flow of history. Hence the title of THE DEAD HAND for the original story in the anthology. It’s all talking heads with all the action, which proves worthless, happening off screen. In a latter segment, the focus character succeeds by literally doing nothing. All of which is anathema to current Hollywood “everybody is special” philosophies.

          What the producers did was take a random spear carrier from the first story, gender bend and “ethnify” the character following current tropes, and make it a standard chosen one. None of which makes any sense in tbe context of a narrative set so far in tbe future Earth and its tribal histories are forgotten. And of course, the whole point of the trilogy is swept away.

          Nice costumes, though.

  2. Khan is also vowing to make an example of Microsoft’s purchase of ACTIVISION.

    Her diatribe announcement reads like a cheap idiologue running for dogcatcher, not an informed student of the state of the gaming industry. And she has about as much a chance as she would getting elected dogcatcher, especially after her public statements.

    As with Amazon and MGM she has very little to work with under pretty much any school of antitrust since even after the deal MS would still be third in an enormous but highly fragmented industry where the largest player (China’s TENCENT) only commands 17% and Sony is Number 2. And Activision is a distressed property dealing with multiple lawsuits, employee flight, declining sales, and a 45% drop in stock over four months until MS agreed to Activision’s request to be bought out, all cash.)

    (She is pretty much the only person this side of SONY that doesn’t welcome this deal. Activision employees, gamers, Activision stockholders, and informed non-gamers all *welcome* this deal as a rescue operation of a mismanaged and dying giant.)

    Ideologues make for poor regulators.
    At most she’ll make MS and Activision to take the FTC to court, much like AT&T did with the similar size WARNERMEDIA deal. Which the feds lost.

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