US FTC secures settlement with ICE, Black Knight over $11.7 billion deal

(Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday said it had secured a settlement resolving antitrust concerns over NYSE-owner Intercontinental Exchange's proposed purchase of data vendor Black Knight.

The FTC had initially expressed concern that the $11.7 billion deal, which combines the two top mortgage technology providers, would drive up costs, reduce innovation and limit lenders' choices.

"To address these concerns, the Commission's order provides structural relief and a variety of tools to preserve competition in these critical markets," Henry Liu, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.

U.S. antitrust regulators under President Joe Biden have taken a tough stance against corporate consolidation, waging battles against companies across industries including airlines, technology and finance.

The proposed settlement ensures Black Knight's divestiture of Empower and Optimal Blue, two businesses that provide services in the mortgage origination process, the FTC said.

The two will be taken over by Constellation Software unit, Constellation Web Solutions.

Black Knight said in mid-July it would sell its Optimal Blue business for $700 million. Optimal Blue provides data and technology to price and trade mortgages. The sale of the Empower loan origination system business had been previously announced.

The agreement with the FTC also requires ICE and Black Knight to seek approval from the agency before buying back any divested asset, or before buying an interest in a loan origination system business, over the next 10 years.

The FTC initially launched a lawsuit against the proposed deal but this month moved to drop it as the sides tried to negotiate a settlement.

The consent agreement now goes through a public comment period.

(Reporting by Jasper Ward and David Ljunggren, editing by Cynthia Osterman and Bill Berkrot)