On April 23, the European Commission (“Commission”) opened an in-depth investigation of Apple’s acquisition of Shazam in order to, in the words of Commissioner Vestager, ensure that “music fans won’t face less choice as a result of this proposed merger”. On September 6, 2018, the Commission concluded its investigation, issuing an unconditional clearance.
This story’s protagonists hardly need introduction. Apple is one of the world’s major tech companies, and the provider of the ‘Apple Music’ streaming service. Shazam, in turn, provides a leading music recognition app. However, as is not unusual with consumer-facing apps, Shazam generates relatively little turnover.
Procedure. Following debate as to how merger regimes most appropriately ensure scrutiny of acquisitions of products and services that are widely used but do not generate significant turnover, the German and Austrian authorities introduced Transaktionswert-Schwellen (“Transaction Value Thresholds”) which confer jurisdiction over acquisitions that would not meet the revenue-based thresholds (for more information, see the Guidance made available by the German and Austrian Competition Authorities and the Covington view on this). In any event, the Austrian authority had jurisdiction over the acquisition, and referred it to the Commission.
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