In a post on its blog, Google announced on Jan. 14 the closing of its acquisition of Fitbit, which has thus been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. The announcement was timed to follow a deadline of Jan. 13 that the U.S. Justice Department had set for its approval of the $2.1 billion transaction.
The U.S. anti-trust body had not raised any objections by then, but one of its officials was quoted by The New York Times as saying that it “continues to investigate whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit may harm competition and consumers in the United States.”
As reported, the European Commission gave its approval to the takeover last month, based on numerous conditions. However, Australia’s Competition & Consumer Commission said at the time that it would continue its review of the transaction, setting a March 25 deadline for its own verdict. It indicated that Google’s assurances were inadequate and difficult to monitor.
It’s unusual for a company to go ahead with a takeover without obtaining anti-trust approval from all the main jurisdictions. In announcing it, Google’s management said that “This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear from the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy.”
Fitbit’s CEO, James Park, said in a statement that the health and wellness data collected from its 29 million users will not be used by the new owner for ads, and that they will be kept separate from other Google ad data. He also told users that the acquisition will let the company “innovate faster, provide more choice, and make even better products to support your health and wellness needs.”
Google’s takeover is coming after three years of heavy losses and steadily declining sales for Fitbit, which has also been losing market share. The company had only 4.7 of the wearables market in 2019, according to IDC, coming after Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei. Apple alone had a market share of 31.7 percent two years ago.