The Norwegian Competition Authority has decided to intervene against Schibsted’s acquisition of Nettbil. The Authority is of the view that the acquisition will weaken competition in the market for online sales of used cars and will result in poorer services for consumers.
Schibsted ASA and Nettbil AS operate competing digital marketplaces for private persons who wish to sell their used cars. Schibsted is the owner of the marketplace Finn and provides online classified advertising. Nettbil operates an online auction platform for used cars sold by private persons to car dealers. The parties have today received the Authority’s decision, according to which Schibsted must sell Nettbil.
– Online platforms for buying and selling products are getting increasingly important for Norwegian consumers. Healthy competition between companies is important, among other things, to ensure that new services are developed and that prices remain as low as possible for consumers. The Authority is of the opinion that Schibsted’s acquisition of Nettbil removes an increasing competitive pressure that Nettbil exerts on Finn, says Director General Lars Sørgard.
Also internationally, there is an increased focus on the importance of facilitating competition in digital markets, to avoid that individual players become too powerful.
– In digital markets, a single undertaking may quickly take a very large share of the market, which is what Schibsted has done through Finn. If large, established companies are allowed to acquire their challengers, competition may be reduced, even if the acquired company is relatively small at the time of the acquisition, says Director Gjermund Nese.
There are few players in the Norwegian market for online sales of used cars, with Finn as a clear market leader. Nettbil, a newcomer in this market, has experienced strong growth in recent years. With Schibsted’s acquisition of Nettbil, the market for online sales of used cars would become more concentrated.
– Reduced competition in markets may result in poorer outcomes for consumers, in terms of higher prices, reduced quality or less innovation, says Nese.
The Competition Authority’s decision entails that Schibsted must sell its shares in Nettbil to an independent and suitable buyer, which must be approved by the Authority.
The Authority’s decision may be appealed to the Competition Tribunal within six weeks upon receipt of the decision.