Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) shareholders have approved the sale of the company to Google, a move that clears one hurdle out of the search giant’s efforts to grow its mobile-computing capabilities. However, it will be federal regulators who have the final word on whether the deal will go through, and they have yet to make their decisions.
Motorola Mobility on Nov. 17 announced that at a meeting this week, stockholders voted “overwhelmingly” to approve the proposed merger with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). About 99 percent of the shareholders voted for the merger agreement.
As announced Aug. 15, Motorola Mobility and Google announced a plan for Google to buy Motorola Mobility for about $12.5 billion. Google officials at the time said they expected the merger to close by the end of 2011 or early 2012, but added that it is subject to various closing conditions, including approval by the Department of Justice. When first announced in August, the transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
“We are pleased and gratified by the strong support we have received from our stockholders, with more than 99 percent of the voting shares voting in support of the transaction,” Sanjay Jha, chairman and CEO of Motorola Mobility, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Google to realize the significant value this combination will bring to our stockholders and all the new opportunities it will provide our dedicated employees, customers and partners.”
While Motorola Mobility said it continues to work to complete the transaction “as expeditiously as possible,” given the schedule of regulatory filings, officials now say they expect the deal to close in early 2012. However, Motorola officials also noted that factors outside of Motorola Mobility’s control could delay or spike the deal altogether.
In September, the DOJ issued a second request for information from Google concerning the merger. The deal would allow Google to claim Motorola Mobility’s 17,000-plus current and 7,500 pending patents, which would provide the company with protection against those who want to sue Google for patent infringement. Google would also likely use the company’s set-top box business to boost its Google TV service.
David Balto, a former Federal Trade Commission antitrust official and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said that, if anything, antitrust regulators may see the deal as a boost to competition. “Android is such a crucial competitor to the iPhone in particular, that allowing Google to buy Motorola Mobility will likely produce even more innovation in smartphones and other devices,” he told “ABC News.”