Exclusive: Google’s Fitbit deal will face EU antitrust probe if no concessions – sources

A man walks past a logo of Google in front of at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Google will face a full-scale EU antitrust investigation into its planned $2.1 billion bid for fitness tracker maker Fitbit (FIT.N) unless it offers concessions to address competition concerns, people familiar with the matter said.

The deal allows Google, a unit of Alphabet (GOOGL.O), to take on Apple (AAPL.O) and Samsung (005930.KS) in the fitness trackers and smart watches market, where other players include Huawei and Xiaomi (1810.HK).

Google could allay competition worries by offering a binding pledge to EU competition enforcers along the lines of its promise last year not to use Fitbit’s health and wellness data for Google ads, the people said.

The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by July 20, declined to comment.

The deadline for Google to offer concessions is July 13.

Google said the deal, which has drawn heavy criticism from privacy advocates and consumer groups, is about devices and not data.

“The wearables space is highly crowded, and we believe the combination of Google’s and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector, benefiting consumers and making the next generation of devices better and more affordable,” a spokeswoman said.

“Throughout this process we have been clear about our commitment not to use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads and our responsibility to provide people with choice and control with their data,” she said.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Marine Strauss and Frances Kerry

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