EU opens investigation into proposed $2.1bn Google acquisition of Fitbit

EU opens investigation into proposed $2.1bn Google acquisition of Fitbit

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit by Google under the EU Merger Regulation.

The Commission is concerned that the proposed transaction would further entrench Google’s market position in the online advertising markets by increasing the already vast amount of data that Google could use for personalisation of the ads it serves and displays.

Following a first phase investigation into the transaction, which was notified to the Commission on 15 June 2020, the EU body said it has concerns about the impact of the transaction on the supply of online search and display advertising services, as well as on the supply of “ad tech” services.

The full investigation will also consider the effects of the combination of Fitbit’s and Google’s databases and capabilities in the digital healthcare sector, which is still at a nascent stage in Europe, and whether Google would have the ability and incentive to degrade the interoperability of rivals’ wearables with Google’s Android operating system for smartphones once it owns Fitbit.

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president with responsibility for competition policy, said: “The use of wearable devices by European consumers is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. This will go hand in hand with an exponential growth of data generated through these devices.

“This data provides key insights about the life and the health situation of the users of these devices. Our investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition.”

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