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CMA’s Andrew Tyrie Says Regulators Are Too Lax On Digital Mergers

 |  March 3, 2020

The chair of the UK competition watchdog Andrew Tyrie has said regulators have been too lax on digital mergers, while calling for stronger powers to go after tech companies guilty of ripping off consumers, reported the Financial Times. 

Speaking at a conference at the Competition and Markets Authority on Tuesday, Lord Tyrie said there had “probably been underenforcement of merger control in digital markets”, throwing his weight behind similar comments made by chief executive Andrea Coscelli a day earlier. 

The former politician said large tech platforms could “destroy a small business with a change to an algorithm”, arguing that a lack of crackdowns on mergers between digital companies was costing consumers.

His comments came after Mr Coscelli said Facebook’s acquisition of messaging app WhatsApp for $19bn in 2014, and photo-sharing app Instagram for $1bn in 2012, were examples of “merger control gone wrong” on Monday. Responding to the question of whether the CMA had been active enough in intervening in digital mergers, Mr Coscelli said the Instagram deal had given Facebook an unforeseen “competitive advantage” and allowed it to offset declines on its own platform. He said the CMA needed to learn from “wrong decisions”. 

The CMA is currently preparing to take on greater powers and responsibilities as the UK leaves the EU, and gearing up to pursue antitrust cases against US tech giants independently of Brussels.