Survey says CMA is wrong to prevent Microsoft association

Monday 08 May 2023 12:58 PM

A new poll found that a quarter of the public thought the UK competition watchdog was wrong to block Microsoft’s $70 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard.

One in four of the public opposed the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to block the deal, while another 16% thought it was the right move, according to a recent poll by polling firm Censuswide.

The regulator blocked the move last month, citing concerns that it would reduce competition in the UK cloud gaming market by giving Microsoft control over where Activision games are available.

The deal followed a consultation process in which Microsoft proposed a series of remedies, and the CMA raised concerns that the deal would stifle competition in the console gaming market.

Microsoft has already said it will appeal the decision, while Activision said the regulator’s decision was “an insult to UK citizens”.

Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett also said that the Capital Markets Authority was wrong to prevent the merger.

The watchdog’s move comes as the UK plans to tighten British regulation of some of the world’s largest technology companies. Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Law will give the Capital Markets Authority sweeping powers to target big tech companies, block mergers and impose fines if they don’t follow certain rules.

Twenty-eight percent of more than 1,000 adults surveyed by Censuswide said the CMA’s decision to block a planned Microsoft takeover would make investing in the UK less likely. 12 percent disagreed with this statement.

“These findings show that competition decisions can be out of step with the public’s aspirations for access to innovative products and services,” said John McLeod, Partner and Head of Competition and Antitrust at DRD Partnership, who commissioned the research.

“The outcry over the CMA’s decision in the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard case reflects a decline in confidence in the UK’s regulatory system, which some predicted would be better post-Brexit.”

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