Tag Archives: Acquisition / Merger

Google and Fitbit say “I do,” but marriage can still be annulled | Instant News


Google and Fitbit Inc. announced last week that the merger of the two companies has ended, but Alphabet Inc.’s antitrust dilemma may make this huge transaction far from complete.

Controversial acquisition conclusion It triggered immediate opposition from a ranking member of the Senate’s Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee and possible future chairperson Senator Amy Klobuchar, as well as some privacy organizations, who opposed Fitbit’s Personal information can be fed into letters
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“Although Fitbit is a personal health care device in the first place, it collects information and uses it to collect highly personal information,” St. John’s University law professor Anthony Sabino told MarketWatch. “I can see that Justice is deeply concerned about Google’s ability to access this kind of caring customer information through Fitbit, at least as an issue in antitrust litigation, which does not surprise me at all.”

The Wall Street Journal stated that, for its part, the US Department of Justice believes that it has not yet formally approved the transaction and is still under review, even though the transaction allowed the deadline to be formally opposed last week. report. The next steps may depend on who elected President Biden to install in key locations.

Antitrust experts are keen to watch who will lead the antitrust efforts of the Biden Administration’s Justice Department-candidates include Terrell McSweeney, who is considered business-friendly, and Jonathan Kanter, who is progressive. The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Joseph Simons, will step down on January 29 and will be responsible for the antitrust investigation of Facebook Inc.
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His successor will not only “play an important role in the investigation,” but will also face pressure from a five-member committee of two Democrats, which said Simmons was not active enough. FTC Financial Practice Department.

The federal government and state attorneys general are conducting antitrust investigations into Google, as well as the acquisitions of the White House and the Senate controlled by the Democratic Party. These are all things at stake.

Legal proceedings against other members of Big Tech are becoming more popular. last weekThe Connecticut Attorney General, William Tong, revealed that in the distribution agreements between the state and some publishers for e-books, “an antitrust investigation has been conducted on Amazon regarding potential anti-competitive provisions.”

However, the current focus is on Google, U.S. Department of Justice prosecution, A group of state AG Led by TexasAnd another group Led by Colorado and Nebraska AG In recent months.

Google and antitrust: Big Tech’s first goal is to face more and more legal actions

Google has always (as in most actions) insisted that Fitbit transactions will greatly benefit consumers and are subject to appropriate scrutiny by regulators.

“Google will continue to protect the privacy of Fitbit users, and has made a series of binding commitments with global regulators, confirming that Fitbit users’ health data will not be used for Google ads, and that this data will be stored separately from other Google ads Data,” Fitbit CEO James Park said in a letter to Fitbit users on Thursday.

However, under the leadership of the new government and the Democratic-controlled Senate, will lawsuits by the Justice Department or these two states undermine the status of the transaction? “Technically speaking, yes, although it has been very unusual since it was approved,” said Douglas Gansler, an expert on antitrust law and the former attorney general of Maryland.

According to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act of 1976, the transaction can proceed if there is no formal objection from the Department of Justice during the waiting period. Google has completed the waiting period and is therefore entitled to complete the transaction. Similarly, the Ministry of Justice can continue the investigation after the waiting period. Miller believes that it is unusual for regulators to withdraw transactions after the waiting period, but there are certain risks.

Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean of the School of Global Business at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, put forward a theory that Democrats can apply a “Glass Steger Act” to the Internet . The 1933 law forced banks to separate their commercial and investment banking operations to ensure that the merger would not weaken competition. On the technical side, this could mean forcing social media companies to run their platforms separately from applications and businesses that benefit from user data.

He said: “Any transaction made by Google, especially with equipment manufacturers, has a certain inherent instability.”

Legal scholars said that despite this, the Justice Department took the opportunity to raise an objection before the transaction was completed, which made the reversal process extremely difficult.

Sabino of St. John’s University said that the Justice Department would revoke approval of the transaction as “very unlikely.” Even when an investigation led to its filing of an antitrust lawsuit in October, it encountered opposition, and the European Union approved the acquisition last month. Sabino told MarketWatch: “It’s simply unfair to go back now.”

He added that, however, the Fitbit purchase “will have an impact on the pending case. [DoJ] Antitrust litigation. After all, the key to federal lawsuits (now about a dozen or more states have joined) is Google’s ability to collect information about users through Google searches, YouTube usage, etc. “

Then there is the historical pandemic and economic chaos inherited by the Biden administration, which may put antitrust cases against big technologies into trouble.

“Technical antitrust issues will not get the necessary push and push from the White House. Therefore, even if many House Democrats and prominent senators like Amy Klobuchar are keen to pursue this goal, the entire agenda may be possible. Will be on it.” Chakravorti said.

Klobuchar seems very keen on closing deals.

Klobuchar said in a statement last week: “Google announced that it will close its acquisition of Fitbit, and the transaction is still under review by the Department of Justice, which once again shows the company’s lack of concern about compliance with antitrust laws.”

The senator opposed to the senator’s acquisition of large technology companies said: “Before Biden’s executive officers took over, the rush to complete the transaction is even more disturbing.” “Although the merger was completed prematurely, I still urge the department to comply with the law. Seek all appropriate remedies to protect competition and consumers from any anti-competitive effects caused by this transaction.”

Privacy advocates are still very willing to question mergers on antitrust issues, and they worry about the consequences of big deals like Fitbit.

The Department of Justice’s failure to prevent Google from acquiring Fitbit is not only incoherent and embarrassing, but also dangerous. This transaction poses a serious security risk to the personal data of Fitbit consumers,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Freedom Project. “Google uses its extensive portfolio of Internet services to monitor its users and Profit from highly personal information. There is no reason to believe that they will not do the same to Fitbit. “

“In fact, Google had previously lied about data to antitrust enforcers. Just like an antitrust lawsuit against Google last month, the company promised to the Federal Trade Commission and Congress how it would manage DoubleClick’s Acquisition, but then Google ignored the acquisition.”

“President-elect Biden should ensure that the role of his government is to reverse this transaction as quickly as possible,” Miller said.

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The CEO Behind KFC, Taco Bell Orders Fast-Food Growth To Go On | Instant News


David Gibbs just signed

Yum brand Inc.

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the first restaurant acquisition in years and is planning a convention for nearly 1,000 fast food franchisees worldwide when the pandemic cripples the global economy in March.

The sudden crisis threatens to wipe out most of the $ 17 billion that companies and franchisees make in annual dinner sales at all KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants in more than 150 countries. Mr. Gibbs, a 31-year Yum veteran who became CEO a year ago, went from advancing the company’s expansion strategy to competing with thousands of closed restaurants.

Since then, many large fast food companies mostly recovered from the early pandemic close, and Yum’s comparable US sales rose in the third quarter from a year ago. But Mr. Gibbs said he was rethinking how Yum – which has more than 50,000 restaurants, more than any other fast food chain – could serve and deliver more food to carry over the long term.

He’s planning a future where pre-ordering fried chicken online is routine, and Pizza Hut customers can get their orders placed in their suitcases without having to walk into the restaurant.

Meanwhile, hundreds of his US Pizza Hut locations, most of which do dine-in businesses, have permanently closed.

The 57-year-old Gibb spoke to The Wall Street Journal via video from Yum’s largely vacant office in Plano, Texas. Below is an edited excerpt.

WSJ: What mistakes did Yum make at the start of the pandemic and how do you learn from them?

Mr. Gibbs: If I look back before the pandemic, I wish we had moved faster for Pizza Hut to be more delivery, run business and less dependent on on-site dining. We’ve talked about it for years. Sometimes large organizations can become bureaucratic. But I think we may be impressed even with ourselves in how fast we’ve spun.


“ I didn’t know that normal appearance was exactly like before the pandemic. Consumers may be more aware of cleanliness in restaurants, and we are looking for new ways to provide a safe environment. ‘


– David Gibbs, CEO of Yum Brands

WSJ: Drive-through has helped many fast food chains stay busy during a pandemic. How does that affect your development plans?

Mr. Gibbs: We’re working on a design that has multiple drive-throughs. The Australian business began building several test units with five drive-throughs in one building.

But the other part of the story is the roadside execution. You see it not only in the restaurant industry, but also in retail. This is good because of our peak drive-through constraints. No matter how hard you ride, you can still fit only X cars in a row.

WSJ: Should the front line workers get food and restaurant early access to vaccines?

Mr. Gibbs: We are very excited about this vaccine. When it’s my turn, I’ll be in line to get it. We hope all our employees get it. But we do know that there are others, such as frontline healthcare workers, who are ahead of us in the queue.

“We support the national minimum wage, and we will work under the minimum wage set by the government,” said Gibbs.


Photo:

Trevor Paulhus for The Wall Street Journal

WSJ: Once a vaccine is more universally available, will you ask employees to get it or have your franchisor consider it?

Mr. Gibbs: We are studying the matter right now and haven’t made any decisions yet. It is important to remember that 98% of our stores are run by these franchisees. So it’s more complex than we just mandating that every store needs to get a vaccine.

WSJ: Even when vaccines start rolling out, it’s unclear when life will begin to return to normal. When did you anticipate this to happen in fast food?

Mr. Gibbs: I didn’t know that normal appearance was exactly like before the pandemic. Consumers may be more aware of cleanliness in restaurants, and we are looking for new ways to provide a safe environment.

WSJ: What management actions have you taken that will survive the pandemic?

Mr. Gibbs: One of the biggest lessons I learned is the power of authentic communication versus the formal written memos someone might send. We bring together various groups of franchisees, corporate teams from around the world in video calls. We get hundreds of questions via the chat function – real time, without filters. We learn from that.

WSJ: Do you support a $ 15 minimum wage at the federal level and for your employer and franchisees?

Mr. Gibbs: We support the national minimum wage, and we will work under whatever minimum wage the government makes.

Mr. Gibbs said he hoped Yum “had moved faster for Pizza Hut to be more than a delivery, running business” when the pandemic hit.


Photo:

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

WSJ: How do you expect the dynamics between the CEO and the White House to shift in the new government?

Mr. Gibbs: We are excited to work with the Biden government and share their goal of building back better especially on the economy and fighting inequality. We have been in more than a hundred countries around the world for decades – we have operated in any political environment.

WSJ: The pandemic’s theme is menu simplification, but some customers say Taco Bell went too far in removing options. Were you surprised by the commotion when Taco Bell removed Mexican Pizza?

Mr. Gibbs: I’ve never been surprised by the passion our customers – especially Taco Bell – have for our iconic products. We can always bring back the Mexican Pizza at some point if the request is there.

WSJ: What is your pandemic tranquillizer?

Mr. Gibbs: I often pass through Taco Bell drive-throughs. We introduced grilled cheese burritos during a pandemic, and that’s the definition of a product that was so coveted for me and my college son.

Write to Heather Haddon at [email protected]

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Kroger Partner Ocado Pushes Into Robotics | Instant News


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Coca-Cola withdraws from bottling in Australia as a bubble offering to sell shares | Instant News


SYDNEY—

soft drink Together.

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agreed in principle to sell its stake in Australian bottling to one of its European affiliates, the latest move to reduce exposure to expensive bottling operations and focus on the more lucrative concentrate manufacturing business.

The deal between Atlanta-based Coke and

European partner of Coca-Cola

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PLC, which bottles and distributes Coke products in Western Europe, valued Coke’s 31% stake in Australian bottlers at about $ 1.6 billion. Coca-Cola European Partners on Monday also offered to buy the remaining 69% of the Australian company,

Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd.

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Bottlers had lost their fizz in Coke for a while.

In 2017, Coke completed a series of deals in the US that shifted its bottling business there from a largely company-owned system to one run by local groups, some of which were family-owned, truck products to stores and operate production plants. A year later, Coke sold its Canadian bottling operations, including a distribution center and five soda manufacturers.

Getting rid of that asset-heavy operation means the number of Coke employees has fallen sharply in recent years, while helping to reduce its debt burden. However, Coke faced new challenges that were brought by the coronavirus crisis and have discontinued some brands, lay off some workers and change its marketing strategy.

On Monday, Coke said it would only sell its shares if the deal for Coca-Cola European Partners to acquire the remainder of Coca-Cola Amatil is implemented. Other Australian bottling shareholders, including investment funds and mom-and-pop investors, will need to vote to agree to the deal. The head of the Australian company said it plans to recommend a sale unless a winning bid emerges, adding that there is no guarantee the deal will work.

Coca-Cola European Partners is offering 12.75 Australian dollars, equivalent to $ 9.10, a share for Coca-Cola Amatil, about a 23% premium over the volume-weighted average price for the week. Australia-listed Coca-Cola Amatil rose about 16% in Monday trade, to A $ 12.50 per share.

Coke, however, agreed to sell its stake in Coca-Cola Amatil at a lower price – around A $ 10 per share. Coke may sell its shares to Coca-Cola European Partners in two or more stages over time, with several price variations.

In a statement, Coke said it supports the entire transaction, and it is in the best interests of the Coca-Cola system as a whole and shareholders in Australian and European companies. It said the deal would combine the strengths and capabilities of the two companies.

“We will open up further growth and value in their important market,” said Coke.

Coca-Cola European Partners, which says it is the world’s largest Coke bottler by revenue, said the deal would add geographic diversification and scale to the company’s footprint, which is currently focused exclusively on Western Europe. Coca-Cola Amatil sells Coke products in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Indonesia – which has a population of 270 million and is touted as a growth opportunity for Coke products.

Analysts said Monday’s deal reflects Coke’s overall strategy to limit its involvement in bottling operations, even though Coke has made a one-time investment to accelerate sales in promising markets, including putting $ 500 million into Coca-Cola Amatil’s Indonesian subsidiary about five years ago. .

“There are multiple stages in the process of making concentrate and getting it into the hands of consumers, and bottling and distributing it are two of the most capital intensive parts of the process,” Adam Fleck, regional director of equity research in Australia at Morningstar, said Monday. “They have historically relied on their bottling partners to take that capital.”

Coke still has about 19% stake in Coca-Cola European Partners.

Coca-Cola Amatil has faced many of the same challenges as bottlers in other markets. Consumers in Australia, the largest market by income, have shifted away from sugary and carbonated drinks due to health concerns, earning revenue despite the company’s efforts to diversify into distribution of coffee, energy drinks and alcohol.

Recently, sales have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as people hoarded lower-margin products sold in grocery stores instead of higher-margin products in bars and restaurants, which were closed during the lockdown.

Stock brokerage firm Morgans said that Coca-Cola European Partners’ assessment of Coca-Cola Amatil was in line with other bottling deals, but it was not a “knock-out offer”. Coca-Cola Amatil could achieve higher margins in the future, mainly because it benefits from a cost-cutting program and easy lockdown for the coronavirus across the region, the company said.

Write to Mike Cherney at [email protected]

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London Stock Exchange Group Sells Italian Stocks for $ 5.1 Billion, Paving Way for Refinitiv Deal | Instant News


Euronext leads the buyer consortium of Borsa Italiana, above.


Photo:

Camilla Cerea / Bloomberg News

LONDON-

London Stock Exchange Group

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PLC agreed on Friday to sell the Borsa Italiana Group to a group led by its pan-European rivals

Euronext

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NV, a divestment intended to smooth approval of a separate, much larger, acquisition of financial data company Refinitiv Holdings Ltd.

The deal, priced at around € 4.33 billion, the equivalent of $ 5.1 billion, was aimed eases antitrust concerns about potential domination of bond trading the proposed $ 15 billion bond between LSE and Refinitiv. MTS SpA Borsa Italiana is Italy’s leading bond exchange, one of the largest debt markets in Europe. Refinitiv has a bond trading platform

Tradeweb.

“This removes major hurdles to the deal, and may also generate some political goodwill,” said Chris Turner, equity analyst at Berenberg Bank, ahead of Friday’s announcement.

Euronext leads a buyers consortium that includes the investment arm of the Italian government and Italian banks

Intesa Sanpaolo

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Spa. The deal price includes an unspecified payment based on cash generated by Italian exchanges through settlement of the deal, the company said. The Italian government has previously signaled it will support a deal under which Italy will retain a portion of the stock exchange.

The LSE deal to acquire Refinitiv is currently under review by the European Commission.

Write to Anna Isaac at [email protected] and Ben Dummett at [email protected]

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