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The Deal: U.K. Regulator Probes Google's Waze Purchase

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NEW YORK (The Deal) -- The U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading on Tuesday issued an invitation to comment on Google's completed acquisition of Israeli mobile navigation company Waze Inc.

On issuing the invitation to comment, the OFT follows on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission, which began probing the deal in June amid suggestions Google had erred in its decision not to notify the U.S. regulator of the transaction prior to its closing.

A person familiar with the British situation said that U.K. regulators were aware of the FTC investigation, but had acted independently.

The Waze purchase closed in mid-June and was reportedly worth about $1 billion, though the Mountain View, Calif., buyer never disclosed the purchase price.

The OFT investigates takeovers which would create a more than 25% share of the supply of a certain product or service, or where the business being acquired derives more than £70 million ($108.8 million) of revenue from the U.K.

Last year it investigated and ultimately cleared Facebook's $1 billion purchase of Instagram. 

The OFT works to an extendible 40-day deadline from the initial invitation to comment, after which it could clear the transaction, agree on undertakings with the companies involved, or refer the deal to Britain's Competition Commission for an in-depth probe.

The OFT called for comments on the Google/Waze deal by Sept. 9, but hasn't yet issue a date for its final decision. The case officer in charge of the probe is Lisa Hughes.

Google said last week it will now include real-time incident reports from Waze in its Google Maps product for devices using the Android and Apple's iOS operating systems. It has also said it is cooperating with the FTC investigation.

Waze aims to connect drivers in the same area by automatically collecting data from users who type in their destination address and leave the Waze app open. Users are also able to submit road reports on accidents, police activity or hazards.

Written by Laura Board