Activision CEO Fires Death Valley Warning Shot At UK Over Microsoft Buyout Opposition
Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sends a message to UK regulators ahead of its provisional findings on the $69 billion Microsoft acquisition. Kotick believes opposing the deal would cause the UK to become a "Death Valley" for tech.
Microsoft's attempt to acquire Activision-Blizzard has been a road filled with many detours and blockades. Regulating agencies in the U.S., UK, and Europe have all brought up concerns surrounding the deal. The UK's Competition and Market Authority (CMA) is expected to announce its provisional findings sometime this week, and could set the tone for the other two. With that in mind, CEO Bobby Kotick took to the airwaves in an interview on CNBC to perhaps try and persuade the CMA in its upcoming decision.
Kotick told CNBC, "If a deal like this can't get through, they are not going to be Silicon Valley, they (UK) will be Death Valley."
This could resonate with members of the CMA, as the UK faces uncertain economic times. "If you're in the UK and you have an incredibly educated workforce, you have a lot of technical talent, places like Cambridge where the best AI and machine learning is, I would think you would want to embrace a transaction like this where you're going to see job creation and opportunity," expressed Kotick.
One of the biggest concerns brought up by regulators and other tech companies is Microsoft gaining an unfair advantage by owning the rights to games such as the Call of Duty franchise. Sony has voiced fears that Microsoft could make the franchise an Xbox exclusive. This is something that CEO Phil Spencer has called "a construct that might get created by our console competitor."
In his interview, Kotick restated the stance Microsoft has taken, that it is in this deal primarily for the mobile gaming aspect. "Over the last 10 years the business has evolved to being principally on phones, and so those are much more accessible," Kotick remarked.
The CEO feels that those analyzing the deal have in large part overlooked the mobile game ambitions of Microsoft. He stated that "the FTC or the CMA or the EU, they don't know our industry, so they're trying to come up to speed and understand the industry better."
Even if the CMA finds in favor of the Activision-Blizzard deal, it must still clear the hurdles in the U.S. and EU. The FTC trial is scheduled for later this year.