Microsoft’s vice chair and president has slammed the UK competition watchdog’s decision to block the software company’s 68.7 billion dollar (£55 billion) takeover of gaming firm Activision Blizzard, calling it a “bad day for Britain”.
Brad Smith said the UK regulatory environment compared unfavourably with the EU and warned the “English Channel has never seemed wider”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “very disappointed” at the move and that it was “probably the darkest day” in its 40-year history in the UK.
But the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) defended its decision to block Microsoft’s deal for Activision and said the UK was “absolutely open for business”.
It comes after the CMA on Wednesday prevented the mammoth buyout over concerns in the cloud gaming sector.
Xbox owner Microsoft struck a deal to buy the maker of Candy Crush and Call Of Duty in January 2022.
The CMA said the tie-up would make Microsoft stronger in cloud gaming – where video games are played using remote servers and have no need for downloads – “stifling competition in this growing market”.
It claimed that Microsoft already accounted for between 60% and 70% of cloud gaming services.
Microsoft submitted a proposal in an effort to address concerns but the watchdog said this contained a “number of significant shortcomings”.
Microsoft and Activision have both said they will appeal the decision.
Mr Smith told the Today programme: “I think the impact on the UK, unfortunately, is to shake the confidence among the business community in the UK, and the CMA as a regulatory agency.
“I think it leaves people worried and it leaves people thinking that actually the process in Brussels worked far better than what we’re now addressing in London.
“Microsoft has been in the United Kingdom for years and we play a vital role not just supporting businesses and non-profits, but even defending the nation from cybersecurity threats.”
He added: “This decision, I have to say, is probably the darkest day in our four decades in Britain. It does more than shake our confidence in the future of the opportunity to grow a technology business in Britain than we’ve ever confronted before.”
Rishi Sunak’s boast to make the UK the “world’s next Silicon Valley” publicly MOCKED
Rishi Sunak’s boast to make the UK the “world’s next Silicon Valley” was publicly mocked by Microsoft and Activision last night after the government blocked their takeover, saying: “despite all its rhetoric – the UK is clearly CLOSED for business”
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