Newly Divorced Europe Still Loves Antitrust

Image Credit: Getty Images, Wachiwit.

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Regulators have a lot on their minds these days. From tackling the global health crisis to building a sustainable energy apparatus – it’s a full docket.

On Thursday regulators in the U.K. and the EU launched probes into two highly controversial topics: memes and chocolate.

Get a Whiff of Gif

Almost a year after the deal was announced, the U.K.’s main competition watchdog opened a formal investigation into Facebook’s $400 million acquisition of Giphy, the animated sticker database.

The announcement follows a move last June from the Competition and Markets Authority to suspend the integration of Giphy into Facebook:

  • The concern is Zuck & Co. will be able to use Giphy as a means to uncover data about competing apps (Giphy is integrated with TikTok, Twitter, and Apple iMessage).
  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has echoed the European concerns, saying “the DOJ or FTC must investigate this proposed deal…I am very concerned.”

Now, the CMA will have until March 25 to decide whether to up its initial investigation into an in-depth probe.

Chocolatier Profiteer

Regulators in Brussels have opened a formal antitrust investigation into whether Mondelez, the maker of Cadbury chocolate, has restricted competition by hindering cross-border trades across the EU.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s executive vice-president for competition, said,“chocolates, biscuits and coffee are products consumed by European citizens daily.” That we already knew.

But Ms. Vestagar expressed concern the chocolate maker interfered with a practice known as parallel trade:

  • The Commission accused Mondelez of imposing restrictions on languages used in packaging in order to prevent cross-border trade.
  • Mondelez may have also refused to supply certain traders in an effort to curb imports into certain markets, according to the report.
The Takeaway:

A bunch of flaky behavior.