U.K. opens antitrust probe into Amazon

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U.K. opens antitrust probe into Amazon

The competition regulator is planning a formal investigation into Amazon.com Inc., according to Financial Times, with three people knowing of the matter.

Amazon According to the newspaper, has been analysing Competition and Markets Authority's business for months. While the timing and scope of any investigation were still being worked on, the probe could focus on whether Amazon favors merchants that use their logistics and delivery services, the report said.

The move by the U.K. watchdog follows an ongoing investigation in Amazon in the European Union and also comes after EU and U.K. authorities announced enforcement of alleged anti-trust behavior at Facebook Inc. Silicon Valley tech giants are coming under increasing scrutiny both globally and across the world as governments fight back against their growing influence over most aspects of modern life.

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg. The regulator of the UK declined to comment on FT.

According to the FT, the analysis of the CMA focused on how Amazon uses the data they collect on its platform. It also scrutinized how the Seattle-based e-commerce giant decides which merchants appear in the so-called buy boxes - the panel where Amazon lists sellers of a particular product and is a key tool to drive sales.

The Buy Box is part of the investigation currently underway in the EU, which is also looking into whether Amazon violated its own antitrust rules in regards to the use of business data from independent sellers on its marketplace to benefit its independent retail arm. The region is focusing on'very specific business conduct' as related to the company's dual role as a retailer and a platform for smaller merchants, said Margrethe Vestager, the Antitrust Commissioner of the EU in November last.

At the time, Amazon said that it disagreed with EU assertions. The investigation increases the risk of possible fines of up to 10% of the annual sales or a potential order for it to change business practices.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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