Fitbit Google $2.1 Billion Deal Enters Twilight Zone, Still Not Over The Line
Google’s $2.1 billion takeover of fitness brand Fitbit has got a tad closer with the European Union giving it what appears to be green light despite protests.
The bottom line for Fitbit is that EU hasn’t sent Alphabet, Google’s parent company, a so-called statement of objections listing potential reasons to block the deal, according to Bloomberg.
Not sending objections, which are key for any merger ban, “is a sign that the commission is closer to clearing this,” said Ioannis Kokkoris, a law professor at Queen Mary University of London.
He said that skipping objections “can be either because you don’t have enough” to substantiate potential red flags in a complex and relatively new area for regulators “or because you’re still trying to sort out the issues” at a time when the EU is also drafting rules for how big tech should treat customers and competitors.
What the US Company has got is more time to work with officials on improving the concessions in the deal in an effort to get it over the line.
The deal is still facing problems in the USA with U.S. Justice Department expected to file a monopoly-abuse lawsuit against Google soon, as Congress prepares legislation to address alleged antitrust violations by Google, Facebook, Appl eand Amazon
Observers have not ruled out the European Commission sending Fitbit a late filing, such a move would give the EU merger regulator very little time to formally flag concerns to Google or prepare a veto by its current Jan. 8 deadline to rule on the deal, said the people close to the deal.
Bloomberg reported that the EU in July announced it would conduct a longer probe of the Fitbit deal to look at how it might bolster Google’s “data advantage” in online advertising, how it would affect digital health care and whether it would be more difficult for third-party devices to work with Google’s Android phone software.
In a statement ahead of the EU announcing an extension, Google repeated its stance that the deal is “about devices, not data” and that it faces plenty of competition for the “crowded” wearables space.
“We have been working with the European Commission on an updated approach to safeguard consumers’ expectations that Fitbit device data won’t be used for advertising,” it said. “We’re also formalizing our longstanding commitment to supporting other wearable manufacturers on Android and to continue to allow Fitbit users to connect to third-party services.”