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US: DOJ to review Google’s Fitbit acquisition for antitrust flags

 |  December 11, 2019

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is going to investigate Google’s proposed US$2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit for potential antitrust issues, according to Reuters. Google, owned by Alphabet, would be able to compete in the wearables sector against companies like Samsung and Apple if the deal, announced on November 1, goes through.

Fitbit makes fitness trackers and other health-related accessories. 

Public Citizen and the Center for Digital Democracy — two watchdogs on antitrust issues — have asked for the deal to be blocked because they believe it would give Google too much data about American consumers, on top of what it already gleans from its advertising business. The Federal Trade Commission also has authority to investigate the deal. 

It was also recently revealed that Facebook attempted an acquisition Fitbit, but didn’t win its bid. Facebook made several bids for Fitbit in October, including a final offer of US$7.30 per share, sources told the news outlet.

The filing showed that Fitbit CEO James Park met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on June 11 of this year for a dinner to discuss the wearables market. A second dinner with Zuckerberg took place on July 2 with Park and other Fitbit executives. Zuckerberg and Park met again in September, according to the filing.

Google announced that it wanted to make a deal with Fitbit for about US$2.1 billion in cash, or US$7.35 per share. Facebook stated it has no intention of bidding again, since Google has agreed to the purchase, the report said. 

Fitbit was valued at around US$2.1 billion when the deal with Google was announced, which is expected to close in 2020. Google stated it will work with Fitbit’s experts to develop top artificial intelligence (AI), software and hardware to stimulate advancement in wearables that could benefit people worldwide.

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