Microsoft gives Brexit Britain huge vote of confidence with new £2.5bn deal

Microsoft has announced it will invest £2.5bn in the UK in what it calls a “vote of confidence” in the country.

It comes after the company was embroiled in a row with British regulators over its £47bn takeover of video game maker Activision, which saw the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) initially block the deal.

The Silicon Valley-based tech giant is now drawing a line under the feud however, as it plans to build a new data centre in north London and extend its office space in Cardiff.

The remaining funds will be used to train more than one million people in digital skills.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president compared the move to the Industrial Revolution saying investing in data centres was the modern equivalent of investing in “canals and railroads”.

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Announcing the investment, Mr Smith said it was a “real vote of confidence” in Britain and a “reflection of the confidence in the government and the country”.

Mr Smith had previously described the CMA’s decision as “bad for Britain” with the £2.5bn in funding coming after the CMA reversed its decision and allowed the takeover to go ahead.

Microsoft is set to double its data centre footprint in Britain as part of the funding, which will include building its largest UK facility based in North Acton, with further plans to expand in the north of England.

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It will also invest in 20,000 AI processors, which power software such as the AI chatbot ChatGPT, with Microsoft being the biggest investor in OpenAI, its developer.

Microsoft said scientists would receive priority access to the new infrastructure.

Mr Smith said Britain had an “extraordinary opportunity around science” but added that it was “too early to say” whether the investing climate was better in Europe or the UK.

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