Amazon’s Marketplace and Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision investigated by UK competition authority

The UK competition authority is investigating Amazon’s Marketplace practices for potential competition law breaches regarding its dominance and treatment of third-party sellers. Additionally, they are looking into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard to assess any potential negative impacts on competition in the UK market. Comments on the Microsoft-Activision deal are being solicited before a decision is made in September for a further antitrust investigation.

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The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened an investigation to determine whether Amazon is breaching competition law through its Marketplace practices.

The authority wants to find out ‘whether Amazon has a dominant position in the UK and whether it is abusing that position and distorting competition by giving an unfair advantage to its own retail business or sellers that use its services, compared to other third-party sellers on theAmazon UK Marketplace’.

Issues under investigation involve how Amazon:

  • uses third-party seller data and whether such data gives an unfair advantage to its retail business
  • sets criteria for selecting which product offer is placed within its Buy Box (the feature displayed on product pages and provides customers with one-click options to ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add to Basket’)
  • sets the eligibility criteria for sellers that may list products under Amazon’s Prime label (offers under the Prime label are eligible for special benefits, such as free and fast delivery)

In another case, the CMA announced the launch of an investigation into the planned acquisition by Microsoft of the video game company Activision Blizzard. The CMA is looking to determine whether the US$68.7 billion deal announced in January 2022 might ‘result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services’.

As the first step in the investigation, the authority is inviting comments on the Microsoft–Activision transaction from any interested party. It will then decide whether to continue with a more in-depth antitrust investigation. This decision is expected to be made in September.