Microsoft could consider pulling Activision out of the UK market as one extreme option to bypass the country block from the proposed $69 billion acquisition.
This is according to a file bloomberg The report, which states that Microsoft chief Brad Smith will meet British chancellor Jeremy Hunt next week to express his frustration with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to block the deal.
Microsoft confirmed to the publication that Smith will be in London, where he will give a “scheduled talk on the potential of artificial intelligence and the need for thoughtful staging of it.”
It 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,” a spokesperson said.
Hunt has previously criticized the CMA’s veto, and said at a recent business conference that competition regulators must “understand their broader responsibilities.”
However, Bloomberg claims that government ministers are also unhappy with some of Smith’s public criticisms of the money market union, including his saying that he believes the EU is a better place to do business than the UK.
Smith will allegedly meet with legal representatives of Microsoft to discuss the company’s strategy to counter the CMA’s decision this week, including “extreme” options such as pulling Activision out of the UK market, or bypassing the UK order and moving forward with the deal.
In theory, if Activision’s operation was moved to another European country outside of the CMA’s jurisdiction, it could then continue to sell its games through a distributor.
Microsoft’s appeal against the UK competition watchdog’s decision blocking its acquisition of Activision Blizzard will be heard in court in July.
Microsoft, which is challenging the decision on five grounds, formally lodged its appeal against the CMA’s decision last week, and the UK’s Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) is set to review the case.
The Activision Blizzard deal has been approved in nearly 40 countries, including the European Union and, most recently, South Korea.
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