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UK government: Microsoft president wrong on Activision block being "bad for Britain"

Brad Smith's claims "not borne out by the facts", spokesperson says.

The UK government has called out Microsoft's president Brad Smith for his comments on the now-blocked Activision Blizzard acquisition.

Earlier this week, the UK stopped Microsoft's $68.7bn effort to buy Activision in its tracks, prompting a furious response from Smith, who branded the move as "bad for Britain".

"Those sorts of claims are not borne out by the facts," a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said last night (via Reuters).

Newscast: Can Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal appeal succeed?Watch on YouTube

In an interview with the BBC conducted shortly after the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) handed down its ruling, an angry Smith invoked the spirit of Brexit to criticise the country's decision making.

"There's a clear message here - the European Union is a more attractive place to start a business than the United Kingdom.

"[The] English Channel has never seemed wider."

In response, the Prime Minister's spokesperson pointed out that the CMA was an independent body from the government, and that it would continue to engage with Microsoft itself, while the company begins its long road to an appeal.

Smith said Microsoft would "look hard at the role of the CMA and the regulatory structure" in the UK in light of its decision this week, which had left "people's confidence in technology in the UK severely shaken".

Activision went further, and stated outright it would "reassess our growth plans for the UK" as a result of the deal being blocked.

"The CMA's report contradicts the ambitions of the UK to become an attractive country to build technology businesses," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said. "We will work aggressively with Microsoft to reverse this on appeal. The report's conclusions are a disservice to UK citizens, who face increasingly dire economic prospects."

Microsoft must now seek to prove the CMA mishandled its initial investigation to win hope of an appeal - which will see the case then return to the CMA once again for further deliberation. Here's more on Microsoft's next steps.

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