Jerusalem » Israel’s antitrust authority has opened a review of Google Inc.’s nearly $1 billion acquisition of Israeli navigation app Waze.
An authority official said Wednesday that the companies did not inform it of their merger plans, and it is now investigating whether the deal needs antitrust approval. Under Israeli law, the authority must approve deals that create companies with full or near-monopoly status in their industries, or have revenue of more than roughly $40 million a year.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is in its early stages.
The companies have been asked to submit documentation within two weeks. The authority will then decide whether to launch a more in-depth investigation. The merger is not believed to be in jeopardy.
In a statement, Google indicated that a U.S. Federal Trade Commission review had challenged the deal, and expressed confidence that Israel would not object.
"The size of Waze’s business did not trigger filing obligations anywhere, including Israel. We are confident that we will convince any authorities taking a look at the deal that it is pro-competitive," the company said. A message left with a senior Waze executive was not immediately returned.
Waze’s popular smartphone application combines GPS navigation software with social networking features, allowing users to improve the service’s directions and traffic reports with their own data. This crowd-sourcing aspect enables the service to adapt to changing road conditions, such as accidents and speed traps, in real time.
Google’s purchase of Waze is among the highest prices ever paid for an Israeli start-up. It also cemented a recent push by Israel’s vibrant high-tech sector into the consumer market.
At the time of the acquisition in June, the deal was said to be valued at $1.03 billion. But in a recent filing, Google said it had paid $966 million for the Israeli firm.
AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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