Angry Microsoft Slams the UK for Blocking Activision Deal

The United Kingdom yesterday blocked Microsoft’s deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion USD, a decision made by the nation’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Speaking to the BBC today, Microsoft President Brad Smith did not hold back in responding to the decision, saying the move was “bad for Britain” and also said it was the “darkest day” for Microsoft, which has operated in the UK for four decades.

“It does more than shake our confidence in the future of the opportunity to grow a technology business in Britain than we’ve ever confronted before. People are shocked, people are disappointed, and people’s confidence in technology in the UK has been severely shaken,” said Smith, who also added the EU was a better place to start a company.

Smith also suggested that if the UK wants to attract investment, it should re-evaluate the role of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and its regulatory structure.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded to Smith’s comments about favouring the EU over Britain, arguing that “those sorts of claims are not borne out by the facts.”

CMA’s Chief Executive, Sarah Cardell, defended the agency’s role in promoting competition during an appearance on the Today programme, asserting that “this decision shows actually how important it is to support competition in the UK and that the UK is absolutely open for business. We want to create an environment where a whole host of different companies can compete effectively, can grow and innovate.”

Cardell also explained that allowing certain deals to proceed would be problematic, as it could “harm the ability of other competing cloud platforms to compete effectively and offer the kind of innovation and product choice that we want to see in this market.”

Smith already stated yesterday Microsoft will appeal the CMA decision, pointing out that the company already plans to make Activision Blizzard’s popular games available on 150 million more devices.