Australian regulator authorizes takeover of Ouriginal

The Australian competition monitoring authority has decided not to oppose the takeover by the American Turnitin of its European competitor Ouriginal.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the proposed acquisition was “unlikely to significantly reduce competition” in the supply of anti-plagiarism software to colleges and universities in the antipodes.

ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said his organization initially feared the takeover would free Turnitin from a “significant and innovative competitor,” but concluded that Ouriginal had only “minimal presence in Australia with few clients and no Australian based employees. “

Therefore, the level of “competitive constraint” it imposed on Turnitin was no greater than that posed by the possibility that “other players”, such as Google and Microsoft, could begin to serve the Australian market in Australia. ‘Higher Education.

The barriers preventing such players from entering the market are “unlikely to be prohibitive,” the regulator said, “and the proposed acquisition is unlikely to significantly raise these barriers.”

Mr Ridgeway said Turnitin’s current market dominance was “largely due to its superior technology and large database of previously submitted student and academic journal articles that are used to check for plagiarism. of the work submitted “.

The ACCC also found that the proposed buyout was unlikely to impact research and development of text matching tools. “Ouriginal does not appear to be the driving force behind innovation in anti-plagiarism software,” Ridgeway said. “Turnitin’s incentive to innovate is primarily driven by competition from other vendors and this will continue after the proposed acquisition. “

The move is likely to upset Australian universities and other higher education institutions, with the Group of Eight among those opposing the buyout. Its September submission to the ACCC cited “the potential for higher prices and lower quality of service” as well as “concerns about reduced product innovation.”

ACCC opposition would not have prevented the takeover from proceeding, but could have affected Turnitin’s business in Australia following the takeover. Competition and Consumer Law prohibits acquisitions that could significantly reduce competition in any market, and the ACCC can take action against companies operating in Australia in violation of the law.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave the green light to the proposed merger in July, citing Ouriginal’s already limited presence in Britain. The CMA found the UK market for plagiarism software to be “insufficiently large” to warrant a detailed investigation of the proposal.

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