* CMA says Giphy acquisition harms competition
* Deal was for a reported $400 mln in May 2020
* Facebook, now Meta, bought Giphy to integrate with
LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Facebook owner Meta has
been told by the UK competition watchdog to sell popular
animated images platform Giphy in Britain's first such move
against so-called Big Tech in its efforts to bolster regulation
of the sector.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had
found that last year's acquisition of Giphy would reduce
competition between social media platforms and in display
Facebook, which was recently rebranded as Meta Platforms,
said it could appeal against the CMA's decision. It has four
weeks to appeal.
"The tie-up between Facebook and Giphy has already removed a
potential challenger in the display advertising market," said
Stuart McIntosh, chair of the independent investigation on
Facebook-Giphy for the CMA.
"By requiring Facebook to sell Giphy, we are protecting
millions of social media users and promoting competition and
innovation in digital advertising."
Facebook said it disagreed with the decision.
"We are reviewing the decision and considering all options,
including appeal," a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.
The CMA in October fined https://www.reuters.com/technology/britain-fines-facebook-70-mln-breaching-order-giphy-deal-2021-10-20
the company a record $70 million for breaching an order imposed
during its investigation into the acquisition, having said in
August that it may need Facebook to sell Giphy https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-may-have-sell-giphy-britains-competition-concerns-2021-08-12.
Facebook bought Giphy, a website for making and sharing
animated images, or GIFs, for a reported $400 million in May
2020 to integrate the operation with its Instagram photo-sharing
app. It has defended the deal to the CMA.
Another major provider of GIFs is Google's Tenor.
The regulator, however, was concerned that Meta could deny
competitors access to Giphy GIFs, or force the likes of TikTok,
Twitter and Snapchat to provide more user data
to use them.
It also said that innovative advertising services launched
by Giphy in the United States before the deal could have been
expanded to other markets such as Britain, where Meta controls
nearly half of the 7 billion pound ($9.3 billion) display
The CMA has been stepping up regulation of the Big Tech
Last week Alphabet Inc's Google pledged more restrictions https://www.reuters.com/technology/google-proposes-new-commitments-browser-cookies-uk-competition-regulator-2021-11-26
on its use of data from its Chrome browser to address CMA
concerns about plans to ban third-party cookies that advertisers
use to track consumers.
($1 = 0.7496 pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle in London and Yadarisa Shabong and
Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru
Editing by Susan Fenton and David Goodman)