Musk's $44 billion buyout of Twitter faces U.S. antitrust review -report

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FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Elon Musk's Twitter profile on smartphone and printed Twitter logos

(Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reviewing Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover of Twitter Inc, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing a person familiar with the deal.

The FTC declined to comment, while Musk could not be reached for comment.

The agency will decide in the next month whether it will do an in-depth antitrust probe of the proposed transaction, the person told Bloomberg. Such a probe would delay the deal's closing by months.

Antitrust experts have said there is little likelihood the agency will find any evidence that Musk's purchase of Twitter is illegal under antitrust law.

The FTC is already investigating Musk's initial purchase of a 9% stake in Twitter, probing whether he complied with an antitrust reporting requirement when he acquired the shares in early April.

One critic of the deal has been Open Markets Institute, which said that it should be stopped to avoid giving an already powerful man "direct control over one of the world's most important platforms for public communications and debate." It also cited Musk's ownership of the satellite communications company Starlink as a concern.

The deal has the support of Republicans, who hope conservatives banned from the site, like former President Donald Trump, will be allowed to return.

While Musk has tweeted about free speech, when he discusses plans for Twitter he focuses more on helping revenues by getting more people to use it or cutting such expenses as executive pay. He has said nothing publicly about allowing banned former users to return.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and David Gregorio)

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