Law360 Highlights AAI’s Letter to DOJ Asking for Review of Google-Looker Cloud Acquisition

Law360’s December 4 article Google-Looker $2.6B Deal Spurs UK Antitrust Probe highlighted AAI’s July 2019 letter asking the U.S. Department of Justice to probe whether the buyout could harm competition.

Google’s closely watched $2.6 billion deal to buy data analytics firm Looker has come under antitrust scrutiny in the U.K., where the country’s competition watchdog launched an investigation Monday into antitrust concerns over the agreement.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it will probe whether Alphabet Inc.-owned Google’s gobbling up of Looker Data Sciences Inc. — which the agreement calls for integrating into Google Cloud — will hurt U.K. market competition.

“CMA is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002,” the agency said in a Monday disclosure.

If so, the CMA said it would then determine “whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”

Comments to the authority are due Dec. 20 on the planned acquisition’s impact on competition, with the probe’s decision dates still not confirmed.

Google unveiled plans to buy Looker for $2.6 billion in cash in June, saying it hopes to enhance the data analytics capabilities of its Google Cloud platform. The smaller company, which shares 350 customers with Google, would be absorbed into the tech giant’s cloud platform, Google said then.

Google’s corporate office on Monday declined to comment on the investigation but pointed to the company’s public statements in recent months — including blog posts touting the deal’s purported benefits to cloud customers.

At the time, Looker CEO Frank Bien said in a statement that the deal would allow “greater reach, more resources, and the brightest minds in both analytics and cloud infrastructure working together to build an exciting path forward for our customers and partners.”

Google noted that the Federal Trade Commission already blessed the deal Nov. 6.

Looker’s corporate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Shortly after the deal was announced, it prompted an outcry from some competition advocates. The American Antitrust Institute in July asked the U.S. Department of Justice to probe whether the buyout could harm competition in the industry known for the “rapid acquisition of smaller, potential, or nascent rivals.”

The DOJ declined to comment Monday.