The European Union’s antitrust regulator “unconditionally” approved Amazon’s proposed $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, in part because “MGM’s content cannot be considered as must-have.” The deal is still pending approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
The European Commission on Tuesday announced the approval of the deal, announced in May 2021. The commission concluded that “the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area (‘EEA’).”
Based on its market investigation, the European Commission said, it found that the transaction “would not significantly reduce competition” in the markets for production and supply of audiovisual content, the wholesale supply of TV channels, the retail supply of audiovisual services, the production and licensing of distribution rights to third-party distributors of films for theatrical release or the provision of marketplace services.
In the last hurdle to clear before the deal can close, Amazon gave the FTC a mid-March deadline to issue a decision on approval of the transaction, the Wall Street Journal reported. If the FTC does not file a legal challenge before the deadline, Amazon can move forward with the deal, per the report.
MGM, founded in 1924, would bring Amazon a catalog of more than 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows, including James Bond, Pink Panther and Rocky movie franchises. Amazon believes “the real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of [intellectual property] in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in announcing the deal last year.
The European Commission, in its antitrust review, found that the overlaps between the Amazon and MGM businesses are “limited.”
“The parties are primarily active in different parts of the AV content value chain and where both parties are active, their combined market shares are low,” the commission said. It also found that MGM’s upstream activities as a producer and licensor of film and TV content “are limited compared to other market players’ activities” and that MGM’s content “cannot be considered as must-have.”
In addition, “Even in the national markets where Amazon has a sizeable market presence among video streaming platforms, the Commission found that Amazon faces strong competition from other players,” the regulator said. The commission concluded that the addition of MGM’s content into Amazon’s Prime Video offer would not have a “significant impact on Amazon’s position as provider of marketplace services.”
MGM’s film catalog includes “12 Angry Men,” “Basic Instinct,” “Creed” and “Rocky,” “Legally Blonde,” “Moonstruck,” “Poltergeist,” “Raging Bull,” “Robocop,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Stargate,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Tomb Raider,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Pink Panther,” “The Thomas Crown Affair” and, of course, the James Bond series. On the TV front, the studio has produced “Fargo,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Vikings.”