Microsoft has been invited to showcase its products in 10 Downing Street on the same day that its $75bn takeover of games-maker Activision faces being blocked by British competition watchdogs.
Sky News has learnt that the technology giant is among the companies due to attend an event organised by UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE), the industry body on April 26 – the same day as a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) statutory deadline to deliver its Phase-2 verdict on the Activision deal.
One City source said there was “bemusement” at the confluence of the two events, and said a CMA decision to reject the deal would be “damaging” to Microsoft’s relationship with the government.
They added that Microsoft faced “embarrassment” at being inside Downing Street if the CMA’s ruling went against the company.
Last month, the CMA said it no longer believed there would be a “substantial lessening of competition” in the games console market – where Microsoft has a big presence with its Xbox product – if it bought Activision, which makes the Call of Duty franchise.
This was a reversal of the CMA’s earlier stance, and was reported as a major boost to Microsoft’s hopes of seeing the deal approved.
Industry insiders said, however, they still believed there was still a “meaningful” risk of the CMA blocking the takeover altogether.
Microsoft said in a statement that it “appreciate[d] the CMA’s rigorous and thorough evaluation of the evidence”.
“This deal will provide more players with more choice in how they play Call of Duty and their favourite games.”
One insider said it was possible that the CMA ruling would be announced prior to the day of its statutory deadline.
Downing Street did not respond to a request for comment.