9 January 2014
OFT approves Google’s acquisition of Waze Mobile Limited
On 17 December 2013, the OFT published its decision to clear Google’s $966 million acquisition of Waze Mobile Limited, a provider of a social mapping service that enables drivers to build and use live maps, contribute and receive real-time traffic updates and obtain turn-by-turn navigation.The OFT found that the parties overlapped in the provision of turn-by-turn navigation applications for mobile devices and advertising on these applications. It considered whether the merger would result in the loss of a growing and innovative competitor that provided a constraint on Google, focusing in particular on the extent to which Waze benefitted from significant network effects arising from its user community.In its Issues Letter, the OFT set out third party concerns that Waze represented a unique disruptive force whose position would be difficult to replicate. However, a detailed assessment enabled the OFT to conclude that Waze’s position in the UK would not prevent others from successfully developing their own crowd-sourcing model or otherwise entering and expanding in the turn-by-turn navigation application segment. RBB advised Google throughout the OFT investigation, working alongside Cleary Gottlieb.