By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Amazon is expected to win unconditional EU antitrust approval for its $8.5 billion buy of U.S. movie studio MGM, people familiar with the matter said, a move that is set to ramp up competition with streaming rivals Netflix and Disney+.
Announced in May last year, the deal would also strengthen Amazon's video streaming service, drawing people to subscribe to Amazon Prime, which offers fast shipping and encourages consumers to shop more regularly.
The MGM acquisition would give the world's largest online retailer rights to James Bond, one of the most lucrative franchises in film history that's earned nearly $7 billion at the box office globally, according to MGM.
MGM also licences content for video games, which could benefit Amazon's development efforts in that area.
The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by March 15, declined to comment.
Amazon said: "Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and we’re working with regulators to respond to requests."
The Federal Trade Commission is nearing a mid-March deadline to decide on the deal, according to a source familiar with the matter.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Editing by Louise Heavens)