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Walmart-Vizio Merger Gets FTC Antitrust Scrutiny

Vizio TV box

Federal regulators are examining Walmart’s plan to buy smart television maker Vizio.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is conducting an antitrust review of the proposed $2.3 billion merger, Vizio said in a regulatory filing Tuesday (April 30).

According to the filing, both companies on Monday (April 29) received a request for additional documents about the merger.

The companies expect to promptly reply to this request and “to continue working cooperatively with the FTC as it conducts their review of the merger,” the filing said.

The newest notice from the FTC came after Walmart last month withdrew and then refiled forms about the planned acquisition — known as the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) notification and report — following informal discussions with the FTC and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Walmart withdrew its report “in order to give the antitrust agencies additional time to review the proposed transaction,” Vizio said in an earlier filing.

The Hart-Scott-Rodino Act requires parties in large mergers and acquisitions to notify the FTC and the DOJ about the proposed transaction before it occurs. It prevents these companies from concluding their deal until the waiting period has passed or the government terminates the waiting period.

The companies entered into an agreement for Walmart to acquire Vizio in February. The deal enables Walmart to bolster its media business, Walmart Connect, by marrying Vizio’s SmartCast Operating System with Walmart’s reach and capabilities.

Walmart has historically been the smart television maker’s largest customer, with Vizio the top-selling television brand at Walmart stores.

“We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment,” Seth Dallaire, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Walmart U.S., said in a news release at the time.

The companies noted then that Vizio has seen 400% growth in active accounts since 2018, with more than 18 million active accounts and a thriving advertising business.

“This accelerates Walmart’s advertising as it moves into streaming TV opportunities,” one media analyst told CNN after the deal was announced.

But that’s only one part of the story, PYMNTS argued at the time.

“The acquisition could also fortify Walmart+, the retail giant’s subscription service, which was launched in 2020 to compete with Amazon Prime and other subscription heavyweights,” that report said.

“Among the benefits Walmart+ offers subscribers is access to video streamer Paramount+. In other words, the recent acquisition may offer Walmart two avenues to gather revenue and data from consumers, through Vizio products and Paramount+.”