Google, Motorola merger prompts DoJ probe

By Andrew R Hickey on Sep 30, 2011 8:40 AM
Filed under Hardware

Deal to be delayed until late this year, early next.

Google's planned $US12.5 billion ($AU12.8 billion) acquisition of Motorola Mobility will be under review by the US Department of Justice, which requested additional information from Google regarding the proposed merger in order to examine the deal for possible antitrust issues.

In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Motorola Mobility said the DoJ has issued a "second request" for information, meaning the federal agency is seeking additional information regarding the pending acquisition to ensure antitrust laws aren't violated. Google had hoped the deal would close by the end of 2011 or in early 2012.

"On September 28, 2011, Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc. and Google Inc. each received a Request for Additional Information and Documentary Material from the Antitrust Division of U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) regarding the proposed merger between the companies. The companies intend to cooperate fully and respond expeditiously to the DoJ. The transaction is currently expected to close by the end of 2011 or in early 2012," the documents state.

The Department of Justice requesting additional information regarding major acquisitions and mergers is relatively commonplace, especially for Google, which has seen several of its recent acquisitions combed over by the Justice Department before getting the go-ahead. The move doesn't mean that the DoJ will block the deal, but instead suggests that there are possible antitrust issues that warrant a closer look. The DoJ review could push the close date of the acquisition, however.

And Google is confident that the review won't thwart or slow down the Google-Motorola merger's progress. In a blog post on Google's public policy blog, Google senior vice president Dennis Woodside wrote that that deal is good for Motorola Mobility, good for consumers and good for partners.

Google channel partners have also praised the Motorola deal, saying it could help them beef up their mobile strategies.

"That said, we know that close scrutiny is part of the process and we've been talking to the U.S. Department of Justice over the past few weeks," Woodside wrote. "Today we received what is called a 'second request,' which means that the DoJ is asking for more information so that they can continue to review the deal."

Woodside highlighted that Google has received similar requests from the DoJ in the past, including Google's 2010 acquisition of airline travel software developer ITA Software.

"While this means we won't be closing right away, we're confident that the DoJ will conclude that the rapidly growing mobile ecosystem will remain highly competitive after this deal closes," Woodside wrote. "We'll be working closely and cooperatively with them as they continue their review."

The acquisition will give Google ownership of Motorola Mobility's 17,000 patents and roughly 7,500 pending patents, which will better arm Google in ongoing patent litigation with competitors like Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. If the acquisition goes through, Google will also have its own mobile device hardware on which to run its Google Android software. Google and Motorola have worked together closely as part of Motorola's Android-based device strategy.

This article originally appeared at crn.com

 
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