Briefing

Competition Bureau seeking to force Thoma Bravo to sell one of its oil and gas software products

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U.S. private equity firm Thoma Bravo owns the two biggest oil and gas reserve software businesses in Canada: Quorum and Aucerna, following its acquisition of the latter in May. The Competition Bureau is seeking an order from the Competition Tribunal to make the firm sell one of its oil and gas software products. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The Competition Bureau is nowhere near as aggressive with tech firms as its U.S. counterparts, which are considering investigating Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google over antitrust concerns. It is, however, starting to weigh in more on competition questions concerning tech companies. The bureau’s intervention on the Thoma Bravo case centres around the claim that the rivalry between Quorum and Aucerna made them enhance their respective softwares regularly; now that the incentive is gone, they will stop innovating, thereby reducing the quality of the technology available for oil firms to buy. Last week, deputy commissioner Anthony Durocher gave a speech in Toronto titled “Competition in the Age of the Digital Giant.” In it, he touted the commission’s work with municipalities on regulating Uber and Lyft and the federal government on encouraging the growth of fintechs, and hinted at a new enforcement approach to come: “If we make it easier for consumers to take their data elsewhere, and for new firms to acquire this data to gain a foothold, we’re enabling the conditions that drive competition.”