The decision by the UK government to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the company that makes the video game “Call of Duty,” “had shaken confidence” in Britain as a location for digital companies, according to Microsoft President Brad Smith.
The purchase was halted on Wednesday by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), an independent agency of the government that claimed it may hurt competition in the young cloud gaming business.
Microsoft retaliated on Thursday, calling it “probably the darkest day in our four decades in Britain” and asserting that it had given the wrong impression of the UK to the international computer community.
He said on BBC radio that “the government of the United Kingdom needs to look closely at the role of the CMA, the regulatory structure in the United Kingdom, this transaction, and the message that the United Kingdom has just said to the world” if it wants to attract investment and create jobs.
Smith’s remarks, according to a spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, “are not supported by the facts.”
He added, “We still think the UK has a really attractive tech sector and a rising gaming market. “We will maintain our proactive engagement with Microsoft and other businesses.”
Smith asserted that Microsoft had successfully collaborated with authorities in Brussels but not in London, disproving Britain’s assertion that it will be more accommodating following Brexit.
He claimed that once the corporation responded to the CMA’s inquiries, it instructed them to follow up with any more questions. He stated, “They went silent; we heard nothing from them.
The European Union is a more desirable area to start a firm if you want to eventually sell it than the United Kingdom, he continued.
However, CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell stated that the regulator’s responsibility was to ensure that Britain was a market where firms could expand and prosper.
“The decision the CMA takes is an independent decision that we reached looking at an overall assessment of the impact of the deal on competition, and we think that is the right decision for the UK,” the official added.
She mentioned that the American Federal Trade Commission was also pushing for the agreement to be stopped on the basis of competition.
Microsoft announced yesterday that it would appeal, with Activision providing “aggressive” support.
The Competition Appeals Tribunal hears appeals against CMA decisions and renders a conclusion on the decision’s merits. Microsoft won’t have the chance to submit any additional fixes.