The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reviewing Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s $44 billion (about 337,465 crore) takeover of Twitter, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The FTC declined to comment, while Musk could not be reached for comment.
The agency will decide next month whether to conduct an in-depth antitrust investigation into the proposed deal, the person told Bloomberg. Such an investigation would delay the closing of the deal for months.
Antitrust experts say it’s nearly impossible for the agency to find any evidence that Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was illegal under antitrust law.
The FTC is already investigating Musk’s initial purchase of a 9 percent stake in Twitter, looking into whether he complied with antitrust reporting requirements when he acquired those shares in early April.
One critic of the deal was the Open Markets Institute, which said the deal should be halted to avoid giving an already powerful person “direct control over one of the world’s most important platforms for public communication and debate”. It also mentioned Musk’s ownership of satellite communications company Starlink as a concern.
The deal has the backing of Republicans who hope conservatives banned from the site, such as former President Donald Trump, will be allowed to return.
While Musk tweeted about free speech, when he discussed Twitter’s plans, he focused more on helping revenue by getting more people to use it or cutting expenses like executive compensation. He has not publicly indicated that he would allow the banned former user to return.
© Thomson Reuters 2022