By Emmanuel Nduka
Adobe has reportedly abandoned its proposed $20bn acquisition of San Francisco-based product design software company – Figma.
Adobe says its decision was based on the fact that there was “no clear path to receive necessary regulatory approvals” from UK and EU watchdogs.
Heritage Times HT reports that the deal had faced probes from both the UK and EU competition regulators over fears that it would stifle competition and innovation in the product design, image editing and illustration markets.
While Adobe makes a broad range of digital marketing and creative tools including Photoshop and InDesign, Figma specialises in online software for designing apps and websites.
According to a document published by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority on Monday, Adobe refused to offer remedies to satisfy the regulator’s concerns last week, arguing a divestment would be “wholly disproportionate”.
Several hours later, the two companies issued a mutual statement terminating the deal, citing the regulatory challenges. Adobe will pay Figma $1bn in a termination fee under the terms of the merger agreement. Shares in Adobe were up 3% on Monday.
“Adobe and Figma strongly disagree with the recent regulatory findings, but we believe it is in our respective best interests to move forward independently,” said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s chair and chief executive.
The huge price that Adobe was willing to pay for Figma had been seen by critics of the deal as an effort to quash the software giant’s most promising new rival in decades.
The merger, which was first negotiated during the COVID-19 pandemic’s boom in tech investment, would have valued Figma at roughly 50 times its annual recurring revenue, and double its last private funding round in 2021.
“During a detailed Phase 2 investigation, the CMA provisionally found that the deal between Adobe and Figma had the potential to impact the UK’s digital design industry by reducing choice, innovation, and the development of new competitive products,” a CMA spokesperson said.
“By combining these two companies, the proposed acquisition would have terminated all current and prevented all future competition between them,” Margrethe Vestager, EU’s competition commissioner, added.
The companies were expected to appear in front of the CMA to contest the regulator’s provisional findings on Thursday this week.
Under its proposed remedies in November, the CMA said it was considering either prohibiting the deal or demanding the divestiture of overlapping operations, such as Adobe’s Illustrator or Photoshop, or Figma’s core product Figma Design.
Figma chief executive Dylan Field told the Financial Times last week that the latter suggestion left him amazed at “the idea of buying a company so you can divest”.
After Monday’s announcement, Field said he was “disappointed in the outcome”.