COVID-19 will change regulator’s priorities, says GlobalData

Following the news that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally cleared Amazon’s investment in Deliveroo;

Laura Petrone, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:

“The CMA’s decision is aimed at bailing out a company that is at risk of failure. It considers the collapse of Deliveroo to be more damaging to competition than the deal itself. While this looks like a specific and unprecedented circumstance, it might not be an isolated case, as the COVID-19 crisis has put companies of all types at risk of collapse.

“Over the last few years Big Tech has been targeted by antitrust regulation which has resulted in increased oversight and fines. Regulators around the world are concerned that big internet ecosystems are building monopolies, taking advantage of their large, established customer network and low-cost capital.

“A number of preliminary antitrust investigations against US tech giants are under way around the world, including the US Federal Trade Commission’s probe into Facebook, the US Department of Justice’s investigation into Google and the EU’s case against Amazon. It is unlikely that any of these investigations will change course because of the epidemic, as antitrust and data privacy are the main regulatory issues in the digital era. However, the COVID-19 emergency might push regulators to interpret antitrust laws in a way that prioritises business continuity in order to ensure a better protection of consumer rights.

“Meanwhile, EU countries are stepping up their efforts to prevent unfair trade practices during the crisis. Italy, for example, initiated an action against Amazon and Ebay for excessively raising prices of hand sanitisers, and face masks.”

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