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Microsoft Gambles on ‘Nice Guy’ Strategy to Close Activision Megadeal


Early this month, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, met with Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, to push for regulatory approval of Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of the video game company Activision Blizzard.Mr. Smith’s gambit — which included offering to keep Activision’s blockbuster game Call of Duty widely available to satisfy competitive concerns — failed. A day after their meeting, Ms. Khan’s agency sued to prevent the blockbuster deal.But in an interview this week, Mr. Smith was sanguine. “She did not take me up on my offer, but when I said give peace a chance, she smiled at least a little,” he said of Ms. Khan. “So any time somebody can end a meeting by smiling even a little, there’s always a little hope that we can sit down together in the future.”Mr. Smith’s peacemaking comments reflect how Microsoft intends to approach the next phase of its deal for Activision. Far from giving up on the acquisition, he said, the company intends to gamble that its “nice guy” strategy could still work.In one plan, Microsoft hopes to win over regulators in Europe, people familiar with the approach said. European approval of the Activision deal could force U.S. officials to reach a …

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