Israeli regulator probes Google-Waze merger


The Antitrust Authority is examining whether the companies should have obtained permission beforehand to merge.


/By Ela Levy-Weinrib, Tzahi Hoffman, and Noa Parag /

The Israel Antitrust Authority today opened an examination of Google Inc.’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) acquisition of Waze Ltd. It will focus on whether the deal meets the conditions required of an acquisition, and whether it is liable to create a monopoly in the Israeli market, harming consumers.

The Antitrust Authority has asked Google Israel’s general manager and Waze Israel’s CEO for financial and other information. The Antitrust Authority is examining whether it should have been involved in the transaction, and if the companies should have notified it beforehand and obtained permission to merge.

The Restrictive Trade Practices Law (5748-1988) lists the conditions when it is necessary to notify the Antitrust Authority about a merger. The Antitrust Authority is unsure with the Google-Waze deal meets the conditions exempting notification. The companies have two weeks to supply the documents and financial data. The Antitrust Authority is demanding details of the merger terms, their financial statements, details of commercial documents between the companies and advertisers, and other commercial and financial information that might help the regulator in a ruling.

Google acquired Waze for almost $1 billion in June. The US’s Federal Trade Commission and Britain’s Office of Fair Trading are also examining the merger .
“Bloomberg” reports that the FTC has not raised concerns that Google’s acquisition of Waze might hurt competition, citing people who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

In June, the FTC announced that it would examine whether cooperation between Google and Waze was liable to result in Google becoming a monopoly in online maps.
Google declined to comment on the “Bloomberg” report. In a statement to the Office of Fair Trading in September, Google promised to keep Waze’s service as an independent service and independent company, to make no substantive changes to key staff at Waze, and to take no action to impair the ability of Google and Waze business to compete independently in any markets affected by the acquisition.

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