UK competition watchdog prepares probe into Google acquisition of Looker

3 Dec 2019

Image: PA Media

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is set to examine Google’s planned £2bn acquisition of rival data analytics firm Looker.

Google’s buyout of data analytics firm Looker is to be probed by the UK’s competition watchdog to determine the deal’s impact on the UK and other markets.

The tech giant announced the £2bn (€2.3bn) acquisition of the California-founded firm in June as part of an effort to expand its Google Cloud business, in particular to help Google build upon its BigQuery tool, which is used for managing large datasets. Both companies were already working together before the agreement was reached, with around 350 customers such as Buzzfeed, Hearst and Yahoo.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it is preparing to investigate whether the merger could result in “a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services”. For it to carry out its assessment, the watchdog is seeking comment from any interested party by December 20.

On revealing the move earlier this year, Google Cloud chief executive Thomas Kurian said: “The addition of Looker to Google Cloud will help us offer customers a more complete analytics solution from ingesting data to visualising results and integrating data and insights into their daily workflows.”

If the deal is allowed to proceed, the merger with Looker would represent one of the largest deals in recent years for Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Elsewhere, the European Commission has confirmed that it is investigating Google’s data collection practices.

“The Commission has sent out questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google’s practices relating to Google’s collection and use of data. The preliminary investigation is ongoing,” EU antitrust regulators told Reuters.

Google is also facing sharp antitrust scrutiny in the US, where attorneys general from 50 states and territories launched a probe into its activities in September.

– PA Media, with additional reporting by Eva Short