Google set to win EU approval for Fitbit takeover next week

The Alphabet-owned company announced its plans to buy Fitbit in November 2019, noting that it would use the smartwatch maker to improve its lagging hardware business

Google is set to win conditional European Union approval for its $2.1 billion takeover of health tracker Fitbit 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 is not 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.

While Google has agreed to concessions to allay EU anti-trust 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 comment. The EU currently has a January 8 deadline to rule on the deal.

Silicon Valley giants used to snap up smaller tech firms at will, safe in the knowledge that anti-trust regulators rarely prevented them from expanding into new industries.

The European Commission showed on August 4 that those days are gone, opening an in-depth probe into Google’s takeover of Fitbit – an investigation that focuses on the potentially huge value of its trove of customer data.

The EU authorities are investigating how Google could bolster its “data advantage” in online advertising with information it collects from Fitbit fitness.

Australia’s Competition and 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, has said the company anticipates its bid for Fitbit will be completed this year.