Facebook Fights U.K. Merger Regulator Over Giphy Acquisition
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. became the latest tech giant to complain about the overreach of the U.K.’s merger watchdog, warning that its demands were unreasonable and disproportionate.
The social network has appealed to the U.K.’s antitrust tribunal, saying that the Competition and Markets Authority, which is considering investigating Facebook’s purchase of Giphy, has so far refused to ease up on requirements ensuring that the two companies remain separate during the merger probe. The complaint was made public in a filing Friday.
The CMA is increasingly voicing concerns about internet giants swallowing up smaller firms. Facebook had to pause its integration with Giphy in June after the CMA said it wanted to investigate whether the deal would give Facebook too much information on its rivals’ operations.
A spokeswoman for the CMA said it didn’t comment on ongoing proceedings.
Facebook paid about $400 million for the library of video clips and animated images known as GIFs that can be attached to messages to express emotion. While half of Giphy’s business involved Facebook and its apps, the company also provided the same search service to competitors such as Apple Inc.’s iMessage, Twitter Inc., Signal, and TikTok.
The CMA said previously there is “a general lack of independence of the Giphy business from Facebook” due to certain clauses in Facebook employment contracts that Giphy employees were transferred to. It also said members of Giphy’s senior management team have left the business and Giphy employees have received restricted stock units in Facebook.
Facebook’s criticism of the U.K. authority comes amid a spat with the European Union’s antitrust agency.
The company last month won a temporary halt to a demand by EU investigators to turn over vast amounts of data, potentially frustrating efforts to build an antitrust case.
The EU started examining Facebook’s sales platform and how it uses data from apps last summer, as part of a broader crackdown on Silicon Valley. It adds to a probe into how Amazon.com Inc. collects data from retailers through its platform and investigations into Apple’s App Store. Regulators can require companies to give documents mentioning certain keywords under threat of fines.
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