The UK’s competition regulator is reportedly planning to block Meta’s Giphy deal as it amps up pressure on Big Tech.
The Competition and Markets Authority is set to reverse the deal sources close to the matter told the FT, this would be the first such action taken by the UK regulator against a completed Big Tech takeover deal.
The CMA began its investigation into Meta’s completed acquisition of Giphy, which provides gifs to social media networks, in June 2021.
The regulator’s initial findings in August determined that the takeover of Giphy had resulted in a “substantial lessening of competition in social media and display advertising, harming social media users and businesses in the UK.” In its initial judgement CMA concluded that Meta should sell Giphy, but has until 01 December to make a final call on the matter.
In the interim, tensions between Meta and the regulator have remained high.
The UK regulator fined the company formerly known as Facebook £50.5m in October for failing to comply with an initial enforcement order. Separately, the CMA fined the tech giant £500,000 for changing its Chief Compliance Officer on two separate occasions without seeking consent first.
If the CMA forces Meta to unwind the deal it will signal the UK regulator is taking a hardened stance in the campaign to regulate Big Tech.
So far, the UK’s regulation of multinational tech companies has remained in the shadow of EU efforts. Earlier this month the EU’s general court fined Google £2bn in an antitrust case on the same day that a £3bn data privacy lawsuit into the world’s most popular search engine was overturned by the UK’s highest court.
In a sign that the UK regulator is stepping up its efforts the CMA is today hosting a two day summit to bring together G7 competition heads in pursuit of a joined up approach to tech businesses.