The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) fined Facebook £50.5 million on Wednesday for violating an initial enforcement order issued by the CMA during its investigation into Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy.
In May 2020, Facebook acquired Giphy for $400 million. Subsequently, the CMA issued an initial enforcement order in July 2020 prohibiting any further integration of the businesses of Facebook and Giphy. This order also allowed Facebook and Giphy to compete independently as they would have before the acquisition. In April 2021, the CMA opened an investigation into this acquisition, believing that it would result in a significant reduction in competition in the UK market.
According to the CMA, issuing an initial enforcement order at the start of an investigation into a completed acquisition is standard procedure. The order obligated Facebook to furnish the CMA with regular updates describing its compliance with its directions. However, despite CMA’s repeated warnings, Facebook failed to provide regular updates. Previously, the Competition Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal had also criticised Facebook for its lack of cooperation with the CMA.
The CMA said that this is the first time the agency has found a corporation guilty of violating an enforcement order by “deliberately” refusing to report the required information. Moreover, the CMA fined Facebook an additional £500,000 for changing its Chief Compliance Officer on two occasions without obtaining prior consent. Joel Bamford, Senior Director of Mergers at the CMA said, “this should serve as a warning to any company that thinks it is above the law.”
The CMA’s inquiry into Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy is still underway, and no decision has been made yet in this regard.