Brad Smith is already on the warpath, the day after the UK’s CMA rejected his company Microsoft’s deal to acquire Activision Blizzard King.
In an interview on the BBC show Wake up to Money, he said this about the CMA decision, as the CMA stands representing the UK:
“We’re of course very disappointed, but more than that, unfortunately, I think it’s bad for Britain.
The business community, the investment community, and the technology sector, around the world have been following this case.
And the strong message the CMA has sent, is not just to surprise everyone who fully expected this acquisition to be approved, but to send a message that I think will discourage innovation and investment in the United Kingdom.
And I think, in that sense, the impact of this decision is far broader than on Microsoft or this acquisition alone.
Microsoft has been in the United Kingdom for 40 years and we play a vital role, not just supporting businesses and non-profits but even defending the nation from cyber-security threats. But 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.
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 United Kingdom.”
As you can imagine, Smith’s comments have already ruffled a lot of feathers. They are particularly ill time for recently installed UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who had been pitching his country to Silicon Valley as a “unicorn kingdom”.
A spokesman for Sunak’s office gave this response:
“Those sorts of claims are not borne out by the facts. We continue to believe that the UK has an extremely attractive tech sector and a growing games market. We will continue to engage proactively with Microsoft and other companies.”
CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell was also compelled to share her response:
“The decision that the CMA takes is an independent decision that we reached looking at an overall assessment of the impact of the deal on competition, and we think that is the right decision for the UK.”
Microsoft has already said that they, alongside Activision, will appeal this decision in UK’s Competition Appeals Tribunal.