A quarter of the public thought the UK competition watchdog was wrong to block Microsoft’s $70b deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, a new poll has found.
One in four of the public were opposed to the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) decision to block the deal, while a further 16 percent thought it was the right move, a recent poll from the polling company Censuswide found.
The regulator blocked the move last month, citing concerns it would lessen competition in the UK cloud gaming market by giving Microsoft it control over where Activision games are available.
The deal followed a consultation process in which Microsoft had proposed a string of remedies and the CMA had set aside 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 a “disservice to UK citizens.”
Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett also said the CMA was wrong to block the merger.
The watchdog’s move comes as the UK plans to toughen up UK regulation of some of the world’s largest tech companies. The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill will give sweeping powers to the CMA to target big tech firms, block mergers and levy fines if they do not follow certain rules.
28 per cent of the over 1,000 adults surveyed by Censuswide said the decision by the CMA to block Microsoft’s planned acquisition would make investment in the UK less likely. 12 per cent disagreed with this statement.
“These findings demonstrate that competition decisions can be out of step with the public’s aspirations for access to innovative products and services,” said Jon McLeod, Partner and head of Competition and Antitrust at DRD Partnership, who commissioned the research.
“The howls of protest over the CMA’s decision in the Microsoft / Activision Blizzard case are reflective of a slippage in trust in the UK’s regulatory system, for which some had expected better after Brexit.”