Microsoft softens stance on CMA following Activision approval

by Kareem Anderson

Kareem Anderson

Kareem is a journalist from the bay area, now living in Florida. His passion for technology and content creation drives are unmatched, driving him to create well-researched articles… read more

Microsoft President - Brad Smith

Microsoft’s stance on the UK being an unfriendly environment for businesses due to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) earlier ruling on its Activision deal, seems to be all water under the bridge for the company.

How does Microsoft feel now?

Microsoft’s president Brad Smith’s days of deriding the CMA via proxy statements about the UK are now in the past as his new position is that “The CMA held to a tough standard, and I respect that. In my view it was tough and fair.”

Following an outright denial, leading to an appeal and a reversal decision because of a restructured deal, Microsoft was finally granted approval from the CMA on its bid for game publisher Activision Blizzard.

During its initial rejection of the deal, Smith had choice words when describing the environment, he believed the CMA was fostering as it denied the company its acquisition.

In an interview conducted by the BBC, Smith said, “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.”

Fast forward nine months and one multibillion dollar acquisition approval, and Smith holds a much more introspective perception of the CMA as he admits to Radio4 in a follow up to his comments last year. “I wouldn’t step back necessarily from all of the concerns I raised when I talked way back in April, but I might choose slightly different words to make my point.”

Does the CMA feel the same?

However, CMA CEO Sarah Cardell remains assured in CMA’s earlier critique of Smith’s knee-jerk response to its initial rejection of the deal.

“Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work. Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money,” said Cardell.

While Smith seems grateful for the CMA’s reversal of its extremely expensive deal, the CMA’s strident rebuke of Smith’s earlier rhetoric could play a part in several other investigations and deals Microsoft currently has before the regulatory body.

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