Antitrust regulators will dig deeper into Zillow-Trulia merger plans

FTC's preliminary review raises competition issues

The Federal Trade Commission has made a request for additional information from Zillow and Trulia about their merger plans, the companies disclosed today in a statement that characterized the antitrust regulator’s “second request” as “a standard part of the full regulatory process.”

“The companies are gathering information to respond promptly to the second request and are cooperating with the FTC in connection with its review,” the statement said. “Both companies expect the transaction to close in 2015.”

Regulatory scrutiny image via Shutterstock.
Regulatory scrutiny image via Shutterstock.

Zillow and Trulia declined further comment. Today was the deadline for the FTC to make what is known as a “second request” for information if a preliminary review of the merger raises competition issues.

The National Association of Realtors has reportedly asked the FTC to stop Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia on antitrust grounds. Some real estate agents fear a merger could pave the way for the combined company to raise the rates it charges for ads and leads across a network of sites that includes Yahoo Homes, AOL Real Estate, HGTV’s FrontDoor, HotPads and MSN Real Estate.

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff said last month that there are no plans to raise prices right away if the merger goes through next year as planned. Zillow has said it expects to maintain both the Trulia and Zillow consumer brands, and that the merger would allow it to innovate faster and deliver greater return on investment for agents who advertise on the sites.

When the FTC makes a second request for information, it is asking the parties to turn over more information so it can take a closer look at how the transaction will affect competition. The review period will now be expanded until 30 days after Zillow and Trulia have complied with the second request for information. The review period can also be extended voluntarily by the parties, or terminated sooner by the FTC.

After 30 days, the agency may decide to either close the investigation; enter into a settlement with the companies; or take legal action to block the deal from going forward, according to the FTC’s website.


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