Microsoft's president Brad Smith has expressed his disappointment and frustration over the UK's initial decision to block its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a US gaming company. However, he also said that he respected the regulator's independence and authority, and that he was not giving up on the deal.
Smith made these remarks in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, after the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced in April that it would prohibit the deal on competition grounds. Microsoft responded robustly, going to war with the regular, appealing the decision, and hinting at removing services from the UK. The CMA said that the deal would significantly reduce competition and harm millions of UK gamers, by giving Microsoft too much control over popular games such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft. The CMA also said that the deal would undermine the development of new and innovative games, and reduce the quality and variety of games available.
Smith said that the CMA's decision was “tough and fair”, and that he understood the regulator's role and responsibility to protect the UK's consumers and markets. He also said that Microsoft was “committed to the UK”, and that it had invested billions of dollars and created thousands of jobs in the country. He added that Microsoft was “not giving up” on the deal, and that it would continue to work with the CMA and other regulators to address their concerns.
Brad Smith, Microsoft's President, acknowledged that the CMA's original decision to block the deal led to a constructive change in the acquisition plan, suggesting that it ‘pushed' the company towards a more competitive approach. By divesting specific aspects of the deal, Microsoft has assuaged antitrust concerns while maintaining the core benefits of the acquisition.
Global Regulatory Landscape
After a painstaking 20-month-long regulatory battle, Microsoft successfully completed its monumental acquisition of game publisher Activision Blizzard. The $68.7 billion deal marks Microsoft's most significant purchase to date, significantly outpacing previous deals such as the purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 for $26 billion and Bethesda in 2021 for $7.5 billion.
The acquisition process proved to be a colossal challenge that took considerable effort and intricate negotiation. Microsoft had to surpass significant regulatory hurdles, winning a US federal court case against the Federal Trade Commission, and structuring the deal satisfactorily to meet the Competition and Markets Authority rules in the UK.