Tribunal backs competition watchdog over Facebook’s Giphy takeover

The Competition Appeal Tribunal unanimously dismissed all but one of Meta’s seven challenges to the decision.

Meta bought Giphy in 2020. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Meta bought Giphy in 2020. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A tribunal in London has decided against Facebook owner Meta as it challenged a ruling by the competition watchdog to block its purchase of Giphy.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal unanimously dismissed all but one of Meta’s seven challenges to the decision.

It said that there was “no hesitation” that the Competition and Markets Authority was entitled to take the decision it elected.

Meta, owners of Facebook, bought the image company Giphy in 2020, but the CMA ordered it to sell the business in November 2021. (Brian Lawless/PA)

The tribunal said it was not up to it to figure out whether the CMA had “got it right” but whether its decision was lawful or not.

“In this regard, we have no hesitation in concluding that the decision made by the CMA was one that it was entitled to make,” it said.

CMA boss Andrea Coscelli: “We welcome this resounding endorsement by the Competition Appeal Tribunal of the CMA’s approach to reviewing mergers that may harm innovation.

Innovation is a vital part of the competitive process, particularly in digital markets.

“We also welcome the tribunal’s endorsement of the ‘care and careful consideration’ given to this issue by the independent inquiry group in this case.”

“This judgment helps reinforce our ability to protect competition and innovation in digital markets.”

 

We firmly believe our investment would enhance Giphy’s product for the millions of people, businesses and partners who use it.

Meta

But Meta had a different take: “Today’s ruling found that the CMA’s approach to its investigation was ‘difficult to defend’ and ‘undermines the entirety of the decision.’

“We look forward to understanding how these serious process flaws will be addressed.

“We firmly believe our investment would enhance Giphy’s product for the millions of people, businesses and partners who use it.”

The tribunal found with Meta on part of one of the seven challenges it brought.

It said that the CMA had failed to properly share some information with the company. The authority is allowed to redact information from its decision on confidentiality, but it is not allowed to only publish a partial decision.

The tribunal will decide what to do to remedy this at a later point.

The business bought image company Giphy in 2020, but the CMA ordered it to sell the business in November last year.

The watchdog found that the merger might deny other social media platforms access to Giphy’s images.

It ordered Meta to sell the company, claiming that the decision would protect “millions” of social media users.

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