Israeli Regulator Looking Into Billion-dollar Google-Waze Deal

Regulator seeks to determine whether the acquisition deal, finalized in mid-June, requires regulatory approval under antitrust law.

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Israel's Antitrust Authority has sent a letter to Google Israel and the CEOs of  Israeli navigation app developer Waze requesting documents related to Google's acquisition of the Israeli startup, adding uncertainty as to whether the billion-dollar deal will receive regulatory approval.

Google's global headquarters did not contact Israeli regulators for approval of the deal until now because they did not believe they needed approval from antitrust authorities. Now, the Antitrust Authority wants to determine if the Waze deal requires regulatory approval under Israel's Antitrust Law. Should the authority deem regulatory approval as necessary, it will launch a more in-depth examination of the acquisition and its market ramifications.

The deal under which Google is acquiring Waze was finalized in mid-June. Since then, the deal caught the attention of antitrust regulators elsewhere in the world, including the United Kingdom and the United States, due to Google's pre-existing offering in the navigational app market. According to unconfirmed reports, Google competed against Facebook to acquire the Israeli startup to block its competitor from acquiring a navigational app, paying close to $1.1 billion to do so.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that sources close to the issue said that while the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had contacted Google about the deal in June, it had decided not to delay the acquisition. In the U.K., Google reached an agreement with the Office of Fair Trading that it would keep Waze's app and operations separate from Google while the deal is still under examination.

The Waze navigating app has become ubiquitous in Israel, but the Transportation Ministry may not allow its ride-sharing service.Credit: Bloomberg

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