ACCC authorises Gumtree’s acquisition of Carsguide and Autotrader

The ACCC has granted unconditional merger authorisation to Gumtree’s proposed acquisition of Cox Australia Media Solutions (Cox Media), allowing Gumtree Cars to be combined with Cox Media’s Carsguide and Autotrader sites.

“We authorised this merger because we concluded it was not likely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition, including in the supply of online automotive classifieds in Australia. Therefore it was not necessary to consider the public benefit limb of the authorisation test,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

Carsales is the leading provider of online automotive classified advertising in Australia and is a significant competitive constraint on Gumtree and Cox Media. Facebook Marketplace is also a growing competitor to Gumtree and Cox Media in the supply of online automotive classifieds services.

“Our investigation showed that Carsales and Facebook Marketplace are likely to continue to provide significant competition in online automotive classifieds after Gumtree acquires Cox Media,” Mr Sims said.

“We also found that Gumtree and Cox Media focus on different segments, with Gumtree focussing on private seller listings and Cox Media focussing on dealer listings.”

The ACCC also investigated the impact of the acquisition on the supply of online display advertising on digital automotive content providers.

The ACCC was satisfied that the acquisition is unlikely to result in a reduction of competition for supplying online display advertising to advertisers wishing to target potential car buyers.

“Many advertisers use third parties to place targeted advertisements to individual consumers based on browsing history data on a wide range of websites. Further, we found there are a range of other digital automotive content providers where direct advertisers could place automotive-related advertising, including Drive, Carsales, GoAuto and digital versions of automotive print publications,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC’s determination is available at Gumtree AU Pty Ltd proposed acquisition of Cox Australia Media Solutions Pty Ltd.

Background

Gumtree’s application is the second merger authorisation application following reforms in 2017 to the merger authorisation process, which reinstated the ACCC’s ability to consider applications for merger authorisation. Previously authorisation applications were made directly to the Australian Competition Tribunal.

Merger authorisation provides an alternative avenue for merger clearance to the informal merger review process, which is the most commonly used avenue used by merger parties. The authorisation process is public. If merger authorisation is granted, merger parties are exempt from the merger laws.

The ACCC may grant authorisation for a proposed merger if it is satisfied the merger is not likely to substantially lessen competition, or where the likely public benefits outweigh the likely public detriments.

Gumtree sought merger authorisation for its proposed acquisition of Cox Media. Gumtree (through Gumtree Cars) and Cox Media (through Carsguide/Autotrader) both offer online automotive classified advertising to private and dealer sellers in Australia. Gumtree and Cox both sell third parties display advertising space on their websites and mobile applications.

Gumtree is a subsidiary of eBay Classifieds Holding BV, whose ultimate parent company is eBay Inc. eBay operates a multi-category general classifieds website in Australia.

Cox Media is a subsidiary of Cox Automotive, which is 70 per cent owned by Cox Automotive International Sarl and 30 per cent owned by DealerMotive Ltd, a consortium of Australian dealer groups. Carsguide and Autotrader provide automotive editorial content and automotive classifieds.

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