Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Khan was questioned by the House Judiciary Committee today on why the agency is spending so much taxpayer money on merger trials, such as the ongoing legal fight with Microsoft.
In a hearing today called the “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission,” Representative Kevin Kiley questioned Khan on why the agency is spending a ton of money on merger trials, despite its losing track record.
“You seem to be losing quite a bit, and I don’t say that to be disrespectful, but these are, after all, taxpayer funds,” Kiley said during the hearing. “You are now 0-4 in merger trials. The average win rate for the FTC in the modern antitrust era is around 75 percent. So I have to ask, why are you losing so much?”
Earlier this week, the FTC was denied a preliminary injunction that it tried to get to prevent Microsoft from closing its deal to acquire Activision-Blizzard. However, the agency announced yesterday that it is appealing that decision. Outside of that trial, one of the other three merger cases Representative Kiley is referring to that the FTC lost includes Meta’s acquisition of VR Fitness company Within. Unlike the case with Microsoft, however, the FTC chose not to appeal the decision.
Representative Kiley also questioned Khan a bit more on the legal bout the agency currently has with Microsoft. Kiley specifically referred to the recent verdict by Judge Corley that pointed out how the FTC failed to show how Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision-Blizzard would be anti-competitive.
“The court not only rejected your assertion of a likely anti-competitive effect but found just the opposite,” Kiley said. “The record evidence points to more consumer access. So why should Americans have faith in your judgment when this Biden-appointed judge says you’re so far off the mark?”
With the FTC appealing the decision, the agency would need the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant emergency relief before Microsoft’s deadline to close the Activision-Blizzard deal expires on July 18.
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Taylor is a Reporter at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.