London, April 18 (IANS) The UKs Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally allowed Amazon to invest in food delivery startup Deliveroo as the new coronavirus pandemic is having a significant negative impact on Deliveroos business.

The UK’s primary competition and consumer authority was initially concerned that the deal could damage competition by discouraging Amazon from re-entering the online restaurant food market and further developing its presence within the online convenience grocery delivery market in the UK.

“The CMA has continued to investigate these concerns during its in-depth, Phase 2, investigation. However, in recent weeks, it has become clear that the coronavirus pandemic is having a significant negative impact on Deliveroo’s business,” the regulator said in a statement on Friday.

The CMA’s investigation found that Deliveroo is, in many respects, a highly successful company which has grown strongly and now accounts for a significant share of the online restaurant platform market in the UK.

“As a developing business, Deliveroo is, however, particularly reliant on continued investment to be able to support its operations,” it added.

Deliveroo originally announced the $575 million funding round lead by Amazon in May last year.

According to the CMA, the ongoing “lockdown” in the UK has resulted in the closure of a large number of the key restaurants available through Deliveroo, and a significant decline in revenues.

While Deliveroo has sought to expand its supply of convenience groceries during the crisis, these sales are limited and have not made up for losses in its restaurants business.

As a result, Deliveroo recently informed the CMA that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business meant that it would fail financially and exit the market without the Amazon investment. Deliveroo’s submission was supported by evidence from the company’s financial advisers.

“The CMA has been considering this new evidence as a matter of urgency. It has provisionally concluded that Deliveroo’s exit from the market would be inevitable without access to significant additional funding, which the CMA considers that only Amazon would be willing and able to provide at this time,” the regulator said in a statement.

“The CMA currently considers that the imminent exit of Deliveroo would be worse for competition than allowing the Amazon investment to proceed and has therefore provisionally found that the deal should be cleared”.

“Without additional investment, which we currently think is only realistically available from Amazon, it’s clear that Deliveroo would not be able to meet its financial commitments and would have to exit the market,” said Stuart McIntosh, Chair of the CMA’s independent inquiry group.

–IANS

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