Microsoft already tried the charm offensive to get its unfathomable $69 billion buyout of Activision Blizzard past regulators – and now the deal has been blocked by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), it’s just plain gone on the offensive. In an eye-popping interview with the BBC, president Brad Smith said the move was “bad for Britain” and marked the firm’s “darkest day in our four decades” in the country.
With an appeal pending but analysts insinuating it’s unlikely to shift the opinion of regulators, the trillion dollar tech titan has turned to heaping political pressure on the UK government instead. Smith said: “People are shocked, people are disappointed, and people’s confidence in technology in 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 UK.”
Of course, the European Union still has its own regulatory process pending, and while it’s expected the deal will pass on the continent, the same was said to be a formality in the UK up until yesterday. For its part, the government issued a direct response to Smith, particularly his words about the decision being “bad for Britain”, with a spokesperson suggesting the comments “are not borne out by the facts”. It’s worth noting that the CMA is an independent organisation, and not directly part of the government.