business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Reuters reports that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is exploring the possibility of acquiring the AMC movie theater chain.

Neither AMC nor Amazon have commented on the report.

The Reuters story notes that "Amazon last year closed its $8.5 billion deal for MGM, adding the company behind 'Rocky' and James Bond in a bid to beef up its Prime Video streaming service amid intensifying competition."  Meanwhile, "Movie theaters are struggling to draw in crowds since the lifting of pandemic restrictions, as rising costs force people to cut spending on out-of-home entertainment and more on groceries and rent."

Just the other day, we reported that both Amazon and Apple have decided to pivot away from their previous policies and spend significant dollars on movies that will see theatrical releases before going to their streaming platforms.  The goal seems to be to build greater awareness - and revenue - for their Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ services.  For Amazon to own a movie theater chain would give it even greater control of the distribution process.

Which suggests to me that there is no way the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would approve such an acquisition - it would just be too much power resting in one place.  At least when Amazon bought Whole Foods there were a lot of other supermarket chains, and when it bought MGM, there were a lot of other movie studios and production companies.  That said, I'm not entirely convinced this is a real thing;  rumors about what Amazon might buy always are flying around, and a relatively small percentage of them actually play out.

•  From CNBC:

"An influential consultant for Amazon sellers admitted Monday to bribing employees of the e-commerce giant for information to help his clients boost sales and to get their suspended accounts reinstated.

"Ephraim 'Ed' Rosenberg wrote in a LinkedIn post that he will plead guilty in federal court to a criminal charge, stemming from a 2020 indictment that charged six people with conspiring to give sellers an unfair competitive advantage on Amazon’s third-party marketplace. Four of the defendants have already pleaded guilty, including one former Amazon employee who was sentenced last year to 10 months in prison."

In the post, Rosenberg wrote, “For a time, some years ago, I began to obtain and use Amazon’s internal annotations — Amazon’s private property — to learn the reasons for sellers’ suspensions, in order to assist them in getting reinstated, if possible … On some occasions, I paid bribes, directly and indirectly, to Amazon employees to obtain annotations and reinstate suspended accounts. These actions were against the law.”

CNBC writes that "Rosenberg, who’s based in Brooklyn, is a well-known figure in the world of Amazon third-party sellers. He runs a consultancy business that advises entrepreneurs on how to sell products on the online marketplace, and navigate unforeseen issues with their Amazon account. Rosenberg’s Facebook group for sellers, ASGTG, has over 68,000 members, and he hosts a popular conference for sellers each year."

But probably not this year.