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Dec 3, 2020

Google set to win EU approval for Fitbit takeover next week

Fears of fitness-trackers factoring into healthcare: Tech analyst on Google’s acquisition of Fitbit


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Google is set to win conditional European Union approval for its US$2.1 billion takeover of health tracker Fitbit Inc. this month, people familiar with the discussions said.

The deal could be approved as soon as next week after national competition authorities give their opinion, said the people who asked not to be named because the procedure isn’t public. The EU usually consults the so-called advisory committee on mergers days before it issues approval.

Google announced its plans to buy Fitbit in November 2019, noting that it would use the smartwatch maker to improve its lagging hardware business. Clearing regulatory obstacles for the deal come in a tough climate when the company is facing mounting global scrutiny of big technology companies and potentially restrictive regulation in the EU and other regions.

While Google has agreed to concessions to allay EU antitrust concerns about its move into wearable fitness devices, its final pledge to European authorities hasn’t been disclosed.

Both Google and the EU declined to immediately responded comment. The EU currently has a Jan. 8 deadline to rule on the deal.

Shares of Fitbit rose as much as 1.5 per cent and were trading 2 cents higher at US$7.25 at 12:17 p.m. New York time.

Australia’s Competition & Consumer Commission on Monday published an offer from Google that looks similar to the European commitments, two of the people said.

Google pledged to Australia that it would maintain health and fitness apps’ access to Google and Fitbit data and ensure Android phones could keep working with other wearable devices for 10 years.

Ruth Porat, chief financial officer at Google parent Alphabet Inc., has said the company anticipates its bid for Fitbit Inc. will be completed this year.