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Report: Google's $2.1 Billion Fitbit Deal Is Close to Approval In Europe

By Anders Bylund – Sep 29, 2020 at 3:36PM

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The tech giant is adding more guarantees of fair competition in an effort to clear regulatory hurdles.

The $2.1 billion buyout of health-tracker device veteran Fitbit (FIT) that's being proposed by Alphabet's (GOOG -0.97%) (GOOGL -1.19%) Google is about to get clearance from European regulators. According to anonymous insiders quoted today by the Financial Times, Google and Alphabet are making new concessions that are likely to seal the deal.

Here's an overview of the new wrinkles to the Fitbit buyout proposal:

  • The newspaper's sources say that Google will commit to keeping data collected by Fitbit devices out of its ad-targeting efforts for at least 10 years. Google originally planned to offer this guarantee for just five years.
  • Other makers of wearable devices will not be blocked from working with Google's popular Android platform, and third-party devices should have access to Fitbit data with the user's consent.
  • A monitoring trustee appointed by the European Commission will track and enforce Google's compliance with these terms.

The regulators are still hammering out the final details of the Google-Fitbit combination, running the updated terms by other interested parties such as rival health-tracker makers and consumer watchdog organizations.

A statue of Lady Justice in front of a European Union flag.

Image source: Getty Images.

In technology giant Google's eyes, this deal is all about claiming some space in the crowded market for wearable devices. The updated terms merely formalize Google's "long-standing commitment to supporting other wearable manufacturers on Android," according to a prepared statement.

Critics disagree. In a letter quoted by the Financial Times, several leading economists argue that Google may "strengthen its ability to gather and exploit health data, and undermine the ability of rivals to do so, in order to leverage its power into health and insurance markets."

Nothing is certain yet, but the Financial Times' sources believe that this update will be enough to answer the concerns of European regulators. The proposed merger is also under review by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Anders Bylund owns shares of Alphabet (A shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Fitbit. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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