The company will be able to appeal the decision to the UK Competition and Appeal Court where it will be heard as judicial review, a court process that considers how the CMA reached its decision. If Meta accepts the CMA’s ruling, it will have to find a suitable buyer that will be vetted by the regulator.
A Meta spokesperson said: “We disagree with this decision.” “We are reviewing the decision and considering all options, including an appeal.”
Closing a deal without approval can be a high-risk strategy. The European Union may impose a fine on Illumina Inc. Up to $400 million to complete a transaction without permission. Google closed the Fitbit acquisition earlier this year without US or Australian permission. Australia is conducting an investigation into the application of this deal.
The watchdog said the deal has effectively eliminated the platform as a potential competitor in the display ad market and that Meta must sell all of Giphy to an authorized buyer.
“Without taking action, it would also allow Facebook to increase its significant market power in social media even more, by controlling competitors’ access to Giphy GIFs,” said Stuart MacIntosh, the head of the investigation.
The two sides fought the merger review process. The CMA fined Meta 50.5 million pounds ($68 million) for failing to brief regulators on efforts to decouple Giphy before the UK merger was approved, which Meta has not subsequently appealed. While Meta accused the CMA of being disproportionate and failed to offer alternatives to stripping.
Merger watchdogs across Europe are giving US tech giants a much harder time investigating their market power. Regulators have faced a barrage of criticism for allowing Silicon Valley to snap up potential competitors before they get too big. The Facebook takeover of Instagram, which changed the rules of the game, is often cited as a deal that was passed on by regulators without proper scrutiny.
Other global regulators have not shown as much interest in the deal. Margrethe Vestager’s European Commission has not reviewed the case, while the Austrian Competition Agency is still reviewing it.
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