UK watchdog extends deadline for final ruling on Amazon's Deliveroo deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's competition regulator has given itself two more months to make a final ruling on Amazon's AMZN.O purchase of a minority stake in online delivery group Deliveroo so it can take full account of representations from all interested parties.

FILE PHOTO: A courier for food delivery service Deliveroo rides a bike in central Brussels, Belgium January 16, 2020. Picture taken January 16, 2020. REUTERS/ Yves Herman

Amazon led a $575 million fundraising in Deliveroo in May last year making what the two parties called "a minority investment" and pitching it against Uber Eats UBER.N and Just Eat TKWY.AS in the global race to dominate the market for meal deliveries.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a detailed investigation in December, saying 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.

The CMA provisionally cleared the deal in April, saying it had become clear that the coronavirus crisis was damaging Deliveroo’s revenues, given the closure of a large number of the restaurants available through its platform during the lockdown. It said Deliveroo could go out of business without Amazon’s investment.

That provisional clearance was criticised in submissions by companies including Just Eat Takeaway and Dominos Pizza DOM.L.

The regulator was due to make its final ruling by June 11 but has now extended the deadline to August 6.

“In taking this decision, the (CMA) had regard to the need to take full account of representations received from the parties and third parties in response to the provisional findings and to reflect the impact of coronavirus ... in its assessment,” it said on Wednesday.

Deliveroo said it was disappointed by the delay.

“Deliveroo has repeatedly provided evidence to show that Deliveroo and Amazon offer completely different services, will remain distinct entities, and this investment will in fact clearly strengthen competition,” a spokeswoman said.

Amazon said it was committed to the Deliveroo investment.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton and Jane Merriman