The UK competition regulator is expected to block Meta (the new Facebook) platforms acquisition of online GIF platform Giphy in the coming days, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is anticipated to reverse Meta’s AUD $560 million move after an extensive investigation into competition concerns. Should this impending ruling actuate, it would be the first time the CMA has unwound a completed big tech acquisition.
Meta – formerly Facebook, announced in May 2020 that it was obtaining Giphy. The website for making and sharing images, or GIF’s, was intended to be integrated with Meta’s photo-sharing app, Instagram.
However, in June that same year, the CMA began an investigation into this deal. A provisional finding said that the new relationship would harm competitors in the social media market.
Subsequently, the CMA believed that Meta should be forced to sell the GIF platform as it would give them an unfair advantage over rival social media platforms like Snapchat and TikTok which also use Giphy. Though, a final decision doesn’t need to be made before the 1st of December.
Speaking about the scrutiny, associate professor of economics at the Oxford Institute, Greg Taylor said, “Outside of the tech world, mergers get investigated all the time and it’s not that unusual for them to be blocked to have some sort of remedy imposed upon them.”
“The first time that we see such a merger blocked, it’s really, I think, drawing a line in the sand,” he added.
As reported on by Yahoo News, even though Meta and Giphy are both listed as US companies, the CMA has jurisdiction over any acquisition where the combined party’s control over 25 per cent of a particular good or service supplied in the UK.
Together Meta and Giphy would control an 80 to 90 per cent market share of searchable animated sticker libraries as per CMA conclusions.
In the past Meta has already been fined AUD $93million for breaching an order that was imposed during an investigation into its purchase of the GIF platform, Giphy.
Increasingly so, it appears that interventionist policy is superseding the laissez-faire attitudes that have long been held toward technology competition.
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