LONDON -Britain’s competition regulator said on Friday it had fined Facebook-owner Meta 1.5 million pounds ($2 million) over fresh issues regarding its purchase of Giphy, a sanction that the U.S. firm said it would accept.
Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has taken a tough line with major tech groups in recent years, investigating their dominance of markets such as digital advertising and seeking to block the Facebook-Giphy deal.
The CMA ordered Meta to sell animated images platform Giphy, which it acquired for a reported $400 million in May 2020, after it decided the remedies offered by the U.S. company did not answer its concerns over the impact to digital advertising.
It said on Friday that Meta had failed to comply with certain aspects of its requirements in regard to the handling of Giphy, with the U.S. firm failing to notify the UK regulator that key staff had left Meta.
The CMA described this as a “serious and particularly flagrant nature of Meta’s failure to comply” with rules it set to make sure the two firms were still competing with each other, and do not integrate, while the regulator investigated the deal.
Friday’s announcement marks a new deterioration in relations between the U.S. tech giant and the UK regulator.
The CMA fined Facebook 50.5 million pounds over other breaches in October last year, and ordered Meta to sell Giphy. Meta is appealing the ruling to sell. It said on Friday it did not agree with the CMA’s latest fine but would pay it.
It added that it could not prevent staff from leaving the company.
“We intend to pay the fine, but it is problematic that the CMA can take decisions that could directly impact the rights of our U.S. employees protected under U.S. law,” a spokesperson said.
(Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Alistair Smout)