The UK’s competition regulator announced its approval of Google’s $2.6 billion (£2 billion) purchase of ‘big data analytics’ company Looker, on 13 February 2020.
Following its investigation into the proposed merger in December 2019, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) determined that there are still sufficient enough alternative providers of Business Intelligence (BI) tools, such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM and Tableau.
“[A]lthough Google had the ability to make it difficult for rivals to access the Google-generated data they need from online advertising and web analytics services, there was no strong evidence they would have the incentive to do this”, the CMA concluded.
The CMA said that it worked closely with US and Australian regulators who also opted to approve Google’s take-over of Looker.
Thomas Kuran, Google’s CEO, celebrated the finalisation of the merger saying that “Looker will strengthen Google Cloud’s analytics and data warehouse capabilities, including BigQuery." He also said that the merger will enable the customers to "address some of their toughest business challenges, faster—all while maintaining complete control of their data.”
Kuran’s counterpart in Looker, Frank Bien, called the takeover a “historic day” for Looker and its employees.
“Looker customers will continue to have the freedom to choose from any cloud data management system like Amazon Redshift, Azure SQL, Snowflake, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Teradata”, he added.
In November 2019 the competitions watchdog approved the joining of two other BI companies when Tableau was purchased by Salesforce.
The CMA investigations into BI firms comes amid growing concerns over the gathering, use, and selling of 'big data', especially as algorithms and artificial intelligence become more sophisticated. ‘Big data’ can include information placed into search engines, online browsing history, purchases, use of mobile phone apps, biometrics and even medical history.