Facebook Criticizes UK Regulator’s Call to Sell Giphy

Facebook today criticized the preliminary decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority requiring it to sell Giphy, a provider of animated images. Facebook’s fight to buy Giphy spans three continents and has become emblematic of the regulatory fight against the largest internet companies.

In August, the CMA issued a tentative ruling that the May 2020 deal ran afoul of the country’s competition laws, and that Facebook selling Giphy would be the only reasonable solution. Today Facebook called that “grossly unreasonable and disproportionate,” and said the CMA unfairly rejected its more modest proposal from March for all Giphy customers to be able to access its gif library for five years on the same terms as before the deal.

The deal is also under scrutiny in the US and Australia. In the US, Facebook did not seek regulatory approval before closing the deal, prompting the FTC to tighten exceptions to its pre-merger notification process. Next week, the FTC will release findings from its 18-month study of non-reportable deals by Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft. US regulators are hoping to expand the pool of mergers that require review in order to catch those that might not currently be problematic, but that could harm competition in the future.