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在线翻译:
szdaily -> World Economy
Just Eat’s takeout deal tests UK merger regulator’s tech savvy
    2017-August-29  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

PIZZA, Thai or Indian? You might think British takeouts have plenty of ways to serve hungry customers poring over menus from their iPhones or laptops.

They can sell direct through their own apps or websites like Domino’s Pizza Group Plc. and Pizza Hut, use delivery specialists such as Amazon.com Inc., UberEats and Deliveroo, or log on to a restaurant aggregator like Just Eat Plc. or Hungryhouse, which provide an online service for takeouts.

But lawyers say a merger between the latter two hangs in the balance as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) weighs concerns that the deal will cut the options for restaurateurs looking for a slice of Britain’s booming takeout market. Provisional findings are scheduled to be released by early September.

The probe is one of a string of examples where the regulator has intervened in rapidly changing industries that have been transformed by the Internet — riling critics who say the CMA doesn’t do enough forward-looking analysis, giving it a blind spot in fast-evolving markets where new entrants can deploy high tech to obliterate incumbents almost overnight.

“It’s not good enough to start with the position you see in the market place, but unfortunately that’s the way they operate,” said Tim Cowen, a lawyer at London-based Preiskel & Co. “There is an alternative, which is that you monitor what’s happening in digital markets very closely, employ people to track them, and look at forward-looking market research rather than looking at everything in the rear view mirror, because it’s out of date already.”

The London-based CMA referred Just Eat’s 200 million-pound (US$257 million) acquisition of Hungryhouse for an in-depth probe in May. The regulator cited concerns that the two are close competitors because of similar services and broad geographical coverage and said at the time that a merger could lead to “worse terms” for restaurant clients.

The companies argue the deal will enable them to compete more effectively with fast-growing existing competitors and new entrants with “significantly deeper pockets.”

These rivals include established brands such as Deliveroo, as well as Amazon Restaurants, which extended its U.S. restaurant delivery service to London a year ago, and prospective takeaway services to be offered by Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

Still, those titans of technology aren’t direct competitors, according to the CMA.

Just Eat and Hungryhouse’s niche — that they are the only two companies that allow small restaurants to do their own deliveries — may seem trivial to customers who have an almost identical experience using the app as they do using the plethora of competitors. But restaurants pay only 14 percent commission on each order to list with Just Eat, compared with a typical rate of 30 percent if they use delivery services Deliveroo, UberEATS and Amazon, the CMA said in its decision published June 9.

“Their problem is there’s nobody else,” said Rona Bar-Isaac, a partner at Addleshaw Goddard. “If you’re a little restaurant you’d much rather be on Just Eat than giving away a chunk of your margin to Amazon or Deliveroo.” (SD-Agencies)

 

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