The deadline for Europe to call Google -Fitbit merger has moved forward again – EU regulators now have until January 8, 2021 to make a decision.
The last change in the preliminary deadline noted by Reuters could be due to a party requesting more time.
Last month, the deadline for a decision was extended to December 23rd. The decision may have been postponed beyond a year after Google announced in November 2019 that it would buy Fitbit. So if the tech giant was hoping for an easy and quick regulatory stamping, hopes have fallen since August when the commission announced it would look into the details. Bitten once and all that.
The proposed Fitbit The takeover also comes because Alphabet, Google's parent company, is under intense antitrust scrutiny on multiple fronts on home turf.
Google played a prominent role in a House Justice Committee report of major antitrust concerns earlier this month. US lawmakers recommended a number of remedial measures – including dismantling platform giants.
The European legislator is also in the process of working out new rules for regulating so-called "gatekeeper" platforms – which would almost certainly apply to Google. A legislative proposal on this is expected before the end of this year, which means it may appear before EU regulators have made a decision on the Google Fitbit deal. (And you can imagine that Google is not exactly thrilled with this possibility.)
Both competition and privacy concerns have been raised that allow Google to get its hands on Fitbit users' data.
The tech giant then made a number of pledges to convince regulators. He said he would not use Fitbit health and wellness data for ads and would offer monitoring of data separation requirements. It is also committed to maintaining third party / competitor access to its Android ecosystem and Fitbit's APIs.
However, competing wearable manufacturers continued to criticize the planned merger. Earlier this week, consumer protection and human rights groups issued a joint letter calling on the regulatory authorities to approve the takeover only if "merger measures can effectively prevent damage (competition and data protection) in the short and long term".
One thing is clear: In view of the antitrust concerns that are now being voiced against “Big Tech”, the era of “smooth” acquisitions seems to be behind Google et al.