Microsoft’s Brad Smith meets with Chancellor and CMA, after saying the Activision block discourages investment in UK
Microsoft is meeting UK officials after it seeks to resolve the British decision to block the proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of gaming publisher Activision Blizzard.
Reuters reported that Microsoft President Brad Smith met with the UK’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in London for talks – a government source said, without giving details.
Relationships between the UK and Microsoft came under strain in April after Microsoft reacted furiously to the decision by the Competition and Markets Authority to block Redmond’s acquisition of the gaming publisher.
Indeed, in the war of words following the decision, Microsoft argued that the CMA’s decision was a sign that the UK was “clearly closed for business”, and added the CMA’s move “discourages technology innovation and investment” in the UK.
At the time Brad Smith told the BBC that the CMA block was “bad for Britain” and marked Microsoft’s “darkest day” in its four decades of working in the country.
He also said “people’s confidence in technology the UK has been severely shaken. There’s a clear message here – the European Union is a more attractive place to start a business than the United Kingdom.”
In the fallout last month, Microsoft appealed against the CMA ruling.
The appeal is due to be heard next month, with a verdict likely in August or September.
Meanwhile the chief executive of the UK’s CMA appeared before a Parliamentary panel last month to defend the Microsoft-Activision decision to Parliament, and said agency was not seeking to foster ‘hostile environment’.
Now Reuters has reported that Brad Smith, met Chancellor Jeremy Hunt for talks.
Meanwhile Smith reportedly told the techUK Tech Policy Leadership conference he was hopeful the outcome could change, adding: “I’m in search of solutions.”
“If regulators have concerns we want to address them,” Smith was quoted as saying. “If there are problems, we want to solve them. If the UK wants to impose regulatory requirements that go beyond those in the EU, we want to find ways to fulfil them.”
Smith is also scheduled to meet officials from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) during his visit to London this week, according to reports.
He said he had always been “bullish on the United Kingdom as a great place to live, to learn, to build.”
Last month the European Commission approved the deal, saying Microsoft’s proposed remedies had allayed its competition concerns.
It is also reported that the acquisition has received the green light in China, although Activision Blizzard games in that nation are said to be offline due to a break up with its Chinese publishing partner.
Meanwhile the US FTC is also suing to block the acquisition.
The US FTC trial has been set for early August this year, with Microsoft appealing against the FTC lawsuit, saying it would suppress competition.