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CMA Criticized: Adobe Walks Away from $20 Billion Takeover, Labeling Competition Authority as 'Irrational'

CMA Criticized: Adobe Walks Away from $20 Billion Takeover, Labeling Competition Authority as 'Irrational'
Monday, 18 December 2023 23:31

Adobe Scraps $20 Billion Takeover Amid 'Irrational' Claims Against UK's Competition Authority

US tech giant Adobe has pulled the plug on its $20 billion takeover of design tool Figma, citing concerns over monopoly accusations. Adobe, renowned for software like Photoshop, abandoned the deal in the face of opposition from both the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the European Union. The proposed merger, announced over a year ago, underwent extensive scrutiny in both jurisdictions.

Last month, the CMA expressed apprehensions that the acquisition could stifle competition in areas such as product design software and image editing tools. In a joint response, published just hours before the merger's cancellation, Adobe and Figma accused the CMA of adopting an "irrational approach" in gathering and evaluating evidence. They asserted that the regulator's analysis contained "serious errors of law and facts" and deemed its proposed remedies as "wholly disproportionate.

The companies argued that the CMA's intervention could dissuade start-ups from investing in the UK, emphasizing the importance of a balanced regulatory approach. Despite being open to proposing solutions, Adobe and Figma concluded that no remedy package would satisfy the identified competition concerns. Adobe stated that there was no clear regulatory path forward, making it unfeasible to secure necessary approvals from the European Commission and the UK CMA.

This move comes amid a backdrop of increased scrutiny by competition authorities, echoing Microsoft and Activision's clash with the CMA earlier in the year. While US regulators had been reviewing the Adobe-Figma deal, they had not taken legal action to impede it. Adobe will compensate Figma with a $1 billion break fee due to the failed transaction. The dynamics of this situation underscore the complexities and challenges inherent in navigating multinational mergers, especially in industries with heightened competition concerns.

In conclusion, Adobe's decision to abandon its $20 billion takeover of Figma, citing concerns over monopoly fears and labeling the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as "irrational," underscores the intricate challenges faced in navigating complex multinational mergers. The clash highlights the delicate balance required in regulatory interventions, with Adobe and Figma arguing against what they perceive as disproportionate remedies proposed by the CMA.

The joint response from Adobe and Figma not only criticizes the CMA's analysis but also raises concerns about potential deterrents for start-ups investing in the UK if competition regulators repeatedly intervene in deals. The cancellation of the merger, amid regulatory uncertainties, emphasizes the pivotal role of regulatory approval pathways in determining the feasibility of such high-stakes transactions.

This development echoes a broader trend of increased scrutiny by competition authorities, exemplified by previous clashes such as Microsoft and Activision's dispute with the CMA. The intricacies of navigating such regulatory landscapes underscore the evolving dynamics and complexities inherent in strategic business dealings, especially within industries where competition concerns are paramount. The fallout also illuminates the ongoing dialogue between businesses and regulatory bodies as they seek to strike a balance between fostering competition and allowing for corporate growth and innovation.

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