The UK government has summoned Microsoft chairman Brad Smith over his comments on the now blocked Activision Blizzard acquisition.
Earlier this week, the UK stopped Microsoft’s attempt to buy Activision for $68.7 billion in its tracks, prompting a furious reaction from Smith, who labeled the move “bad for Britain”.
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said last night (via Reuters), “Such claims are not borne out by the facts.”
In an interview with the BBC conducted shortly after the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) handed down its decision, an angry Smith invoked the spirit of Brexit to criticize the country’s decision-making.
“There is a clear message here – the EU is a more attractive place to start a business than the United Kingdom.
,[The] The English Channel has never felt wider.”
In response, the Prime Minister’s spokesman explained that the CMA was an independent body from the government, and would continue to engage with Microsoft itself until the company begins its long road to appeal.
Smith said Microsoft would “take a close look at the role of the CMA and regulatory structure” in the UK in light of its decision this week, which had “severely shaken public confidence in technology in the UK”.
Activision went further, and explicitly stated that it would “re-evaluate our growth plans for the UK” as a result of the deal being blocked.
“The CMA’s report contradicts the UK’s ambitions to be an attractive country to build technology businesses in,” said an Activision Blizzard spokesperson. “We will work aggressively with Microsoft to reverse this on appeal. The report’s findings do a disservice to UK citizens, who face increasingly dire economic prospects.”
Microsoft will now have to prove that the CMA mishandled its initial investigation in order to win hopes of an appeal – which will look into the matter and then return it to the CMA for reconsideration. Here are more details on Microsoft’s next steps.