Activision Blizzard King’s Bobby Kotick has come out swinging, with a surprising new argument compelling the UK to OK their acquisition agreement with Microsoft.
In a rare appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Bobby was asked about the possibility that the UK CMA would reject this acquisition. Depending on their findings, the CMA’s decision could end the possibility of the acquisition pushing through.
This is what Bobby had to say:
“Well, you look at the UK. and you think about post-Brexit UK. It’s probably the first country where you’re seeing a recession, and like the real severe consequences of recession.
If you’re in the UK, and you have an incredibly educated workforce, you have a lot of technical talent – places like Cambridge, where the best AI and machine learning is – I would think you’d want to embrace a transaction like this, where you’re going to see job creation and opportunity.
And it really isn’t at all about whether it’s Sony or Microsoft’s platform. It’s really about the future of technology. And you know they they’ve said now for the last year – I think Rishi Sunak has said they’d like to be the Silicon Valley of Europe, or of the continent, and if this can’t get through, they’re not going to be Silicon Valley, they’ll be Death Valley.”
UK’s current prime minister Rishi Sunak worked in Silicon Valley and has spoken about it a few times. However, it is their chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, who has spoken repeatedly about his desire to turn the country into a new Silicon Valley, all the way back when he was still running for government in 2019, and has continued to say so today.
Hours after we reported that Microsoft expected the CMA to block the deal, Microsoft shared an official statement to Ars Technica, stating:
“Microsoft said that it believes it has a strong case in Britain and it has not predetermined, nor been advised by its lawyers, that the merger will be blocked.”
All eyes are now on the UK regulator, after the FTC sued Microsoft from going through with their transaction, and the EU has shared their objections to the deal. The EU has not blocked the deal from going through completely. So, depending on what the CMA says, Microsoft may have to smooth over negotiations with the two regulators while dealing with the lawsuit, or, their journey to acquiring Activision Blizzard King ends before the end of this month.
We should note that Bobby was asked point blank about this acquisition. It was only natural that he took the opportunity to sway the CMA, and particularly UK politicians, to decide in their favor.
UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hasn’t been able to articulate viable policy that would actually bring the UK closer to being a major player in tech the way China or Korea has. Bobby’s promise of jobs and opportunities has a decent chance of influencing Hunt or other UK politicians of seeing Activision’s side for wanting to pursue this deal.
You can watch the CNBC interview below.