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Microsoft boss meets chancellor ‘in search of solutions’ to Activision deal

Microsoft CMA
Image credit: Number 10 Flickr

Microsoft president Brad Smith met with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt yesterday “in search of solutions” to the British competition regulator’s objections to the company’s merger with gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

“I’m in search of solutions,” Smith told a conference hosted by trade association techUK on Tuesday. “If regulators have concerns, we want to address them, 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.”

Microsoft’s $68.7bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard – known for popular video game franchises such as Call of Duty and Overwatch – was initially blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in April after determining it would harm competition in the cloud gaming market.

The Microsoft president responded by saying the “CMA’s decision rejects the pragmatic path to address concerns and discourages technology innovation and investment in the United Kingdom.”

He added that the decision meant the UK was “closed for business”.

Smith appears to have softened his approach to the UK, having said on Tuesday that he was “bullish on the United Kingdom as a great place to live, to learn, to build”.

The Microsoft boss met with the Chancellor at Downing Street and is also expected to meet with the CMA later this week.

A Microsoft spokesperson told UKTN: “Brad Smith is in London for a scheduled talk about the potential of AI and the need for thoughtful regulation of it. He will also hold private discussions on other issues, including the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard as we remain committed to finding creative and constructive ways to address remaining regulatory concerns.