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Microsoft's "extreme" options to bypass acquisition block could include withdrawing Activision from the UK

Microsoft president Brad Smith meets with UK Chancellor next week.

Microsoft + Activision Blizzard King

Microsoft is reportedly considering withdrawing Activision from the UK in a bid to bypass the country's merger block.

According to a new Bloomberg (£) and spotted by VGC, Microsoft president Brad Smith plans to meet UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to discuss firsthand the company's frustration at the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to block the $69bn acquisition.

Newscast: PlayStation Showcase saw Sony fumble its first-party future plans.

Though in the UK for a talk about regulating AI, Smith also hopes to hold private discussions with the Chancellor, including, according to a spokesperson, "the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard as we remain committed to finding creative and constructive ways to address remaining regulatory concerns".

As Matt summarised for us at the time, the CMA made the shock decision to block Microsoft proposed $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard back in April, highlighting concerns relating to the burgeoning cloud gaming sector and arguing the deal would risk "stifling competition in this growing market".

And now, following the recent publication of Microsoft's summary of application to appeal the CMA's decision - in which it accused the UK regulator of making "fundamental errors in its assessment" - the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal has held a case management conference to iron out preliminary details of the hearing between Microsoft and the CMA.

Smith will reportedly discuss with Hunt Microsoft's strategy to counter the decision, including "extreme" options such as ignoring the block and pressing ahead with the deal regardless, or withdrawing Activision from the UK completely.

As VGC posits, that doesn't necessarily mean that gamers wouldn't be able to access Activision products in the UK, but it could potentially affect Activision's UK staff in development and publishing.

In other news, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is still insisting that the company has never had a "systemic issue with harassment".

About the Author
Vikki Blake avatar

Vikki Blake


When​ ​her friends​ ​were falling in love with soap stars, Vikki was falling in love with​ ​video games. She's a survival horror survivalist​ ​with a penchant for​ ​Yorkshire Tea, men dressed up as doctors and sweary words. She struggles to juggle a fair-to-middling Destiny/Halo addiction​ ​and her kill/death ratio is terrible.

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