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Facebook out to overturn British ruling on Giphy merger

LONDON (AFP) – Facebook’s owner Meta will tomorrow seek to overturn a legal ruling by Britain’s competition authority requiring it to drop its planned merger with online GIF creator Giphy.

Last November, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found Meta’s GBP290 million proposed takeover of Giphy, which supplies animated Gifs or mini videos to major social networks, would give the United States (US) behemoth too much market share.

The proposed deal was announced in May 2020 but a provisional ruling following on from a CMA investigation found a sell-off was required to allay competition concerns, not least as a merger would remove a potential competitor from a market worth an estimated GBP7 billion value.

Facebook is already by far the market’s biggest player and the CMA said both competition and innovation were liable to be hit if the merger were waved through.

Meta appealed what it terms a “disproportionate” and “unfair” ruling, claiming “extraterritorial over-reach” by the British authorities.

A giant digital sign at Facebook’s corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. PHOTO: AFP

The case will now go ahead in London’s Competition Appeal Tribunal.

The case will open tomorrow and is expected to last the week, with a ruling expected after that. But that decision could also theoretically be appealed.

Meta wants to seal an acquisition which would be a means of integrating its photo and video-sharing social networking platform Instagram with Giphy’s huge library of resources.

In October, the regulator fined Meta GBP50.5 million and a further GBP1.5 million in February for not respecting obligations including a requirement to show it was keep Giphy’s business separate from Facebook for the duration of the case.

Created in 2013, Giphy – a platform and search engine for “stickers” and other products using the graphics interchange format or GIFs – has some 700 million daily users.