A UK judge has rejected the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) request that Meta sell Giphy. The business news agency Bloomberg reported on Monday. The court found concerns about the cartel authority’s approach to the investigation.
The ruling follows the CMA’s decision last year to block Facebook’s takeover of the gif database. Competition watchdogs fear such a takeover would harm social media users and advertisers. The case now goes back to the CMA for further consideration of the impact on competition. “We have agreed to reconsider our decision in light of this finding,” the regulator said in a statement. She wants to complete the review within three months.
Appeals judges at the Competition Appeal Tribunal in June broadly supported the CMA’s decision to force Meta to sell Giphy, but also found that the regulator failed to properly consult certain aspects of its investigation and erroneously redacted material, undermining the decision.
Sign against Silicon Valley market power
The Giphy acquisition dispute has raged between CMA and Meta since the company was asked to reverse its $315 million acquisition of the GIF maker. Meta – then still known as Facebook – announced the planned takeover of the popular provider of animated images in May 2020 and was immediately met with resistance in Great Britain. It was the first time a regulator had attempted to force a big tech to reverse a completed transaction, according to Bloomberg, calling it “a sign of regulator crackdown on Silicon Valley’s market power -giants”. At that time, the CMA temporarily prohibited Facebook from taking over Giphy’s business, and the two companies still have to work separately in Great Britain.
However, because Facebook refused to provide all information for the subsequent investigation, the CMA imposed a fine of almost 60 million euros at the end of October 2021 – the highest amount in its history. The authority assumed an intentional violation of its regulations. At the beginning of February, the British competition authority again imposed a fine of millions on Meta for procedural violations. So now the argument goes on.
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