• Tue. Feb 27th, 2024
Microsoft’s Smith meets UK finance minister after Activision block

LONDON, June 6 (Reuters) – The president of Microsoft ( MSFTO ) held talks with Britain’s finance minister on Tuesday, saying he would try to work with regulators to seek U.K. approval for its $69 billion purchase of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard. (ATVI.O).

British competition authorities blocked the takeover in April, a shock decision that jeopardized gaming’s biggest-ever deal, prompting an angry response from two groups that questioned whether the country was open to tech firms.

Microsoft has since appealed and its president Brad Smith has met British finance minister Jeremy Hunt in London for talks, government sources said, without giving details.

In London, Smith told the techUK tech policy leadership conference that he hoped the outcome would change, adding: “I’m looking for solutions.”

“If regulators have concerns we want to address them. If there are problems we want to address them. If the UK wants to impose regulatory requirements beyond those in the EU, we want to find ways to meet them.”

According to reports, Smith met Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) officials during a visit to London this week.

He said he was always bullish on the United Kingdom as a great place to live, study and build.

Smith criticized Britain after the CMA veto, saying it would undermine confidence in the UK as a technology destination.

The EU approved the Activision deal in May after agreeing to solutions put forward by Microsoft comparable to those proposed in the UK.

Microsoft has also appealed the US Federal Trade Commission’s action to block the deal after the agency said it would stifle competition.

The British appeal will be heard next month, with a ruling likely in August or September.

Smith focused his remarks on Tuesday on how AI should be regulated, not just the responsibility of tech companies. “It has to be subject to the rule of law,” he said, adding: “We need regulations to govern that.”

Microsoft and its partner OpenAI used a security board to review the specifications and standards of their AI models before deployment, and such an approach could be replicated more widely, he said.

“Like an airplane, like a bus, like an automobile, a powerful model has to pass such a review,” he said. “It … probably got a license.

“Of course, that means having a licensor to make that decision.”

Reporting by Paul Sandle and Elizabeth Piper; By Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and Alexander Smith

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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