With the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) having shot down the Microsoft-Activision deal today, both companies have declared their intent to fight the regulator’s decision. In particular, Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick – one of the deal’s most vocal proponents – has claimed that the CMA’s decision “is far from the final word on this deal,” and has revealed that his company and Microsoft are already preparing to appeal to the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal.
The CMA’s verdict on the deal was seen by many as a surprise, considering that the antitrust watchdog conceded earlier (much to Sony’s chagrin) that Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard was unlikely to hurt console gaming competition in the UK. However, due to unresolved cloud gaming competition concerns, the regulator has officially declared its decision to block the Microsoft-Activision deal in the region today.
Having earlier stated that the UK would be “Death Valley” were it to block the acquisition, Kotick responded to the CMA’s announcement in an internal email, where he claimed that the decision “would stifle investment, competition, and job creation throughout the UK gaming industry:”
Today, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a regulatory agency in the UK, decided not to approve our merger with Microsoft. This isn’t the news we wanted – but it is far from the final word on this deal.
Alongside Microsoft, we can and will contest this decision, and we’ve already begun the work to appeal to the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal. We’re confident in our case because the facts are on our side: this deal is good for competition.
The UK hopes to grow its leadership position in technology, and a combined Microsoft-Activision would accomplish exactly that. At a time when the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence are thriving, we know the UK market would benefit from Microsoft’s bench strength in both domains, as well as our ability to put those technologies to use immediately. By contrast, if the CMA’s decision holds, it would stifle investment, competition, and job creation throughout the UK gaming industry.
Kotick appreciated his company’s efforts and provided reassurance that he would continue to press for the deal’s success:
This merger is a complex process, and I know I’m not the only one frustrated by the hurdles and delays. We’re accustomed to a company culture that moves quickly to accomplish big goals, so it’s tough when we can’t close things out at our usual energetic pace. We’ll keep pressing our case, because we know that this merger will benefit our employees, the broader UK tech workforce, and players around the world.
I’m going to do everything I personally can to advocate for us and help regulators understand the competitive dynamics in our industry. What gives me confidence is that, whether on our own or united with another company, we are one of the strongest companies in our industry, poised for continued growth, and building on our incredible IP.
I appreciate your continued hard work and focus, and for continuing to connect and engage our players around the world. This is the best time to be in our field, and you all represent the best of our industry. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on next steps as they happen.
Though the deal has been approved in a number of markets including Sony’s home of Japan itself, the CMA’s decision is a major blow when approvals in the key markets of the US, EU, and China are still pending. Stay tuned here at MP1st for all upcoming news and announcements about the proposed acquisition.
Source: Activision Blizzard