FTC Chair renewing probe into Zillow’s $500M acquisition

Merger was expected to close by end of September pending approval

National /
Oct.October 01, 2021 08:30 AM
FTC Chair renewing probe into Zillow’s acquisition of ShowingTime
Zillow CEO Rich Barton and FTC Chair Lina Khan (Zillow, FTC)

Showtime isn’t over for the FTC and its review of Zillow’s latest acquisition, which had appeared to pass government muster amid persistent concerns over information consolidation.

Zillow’s $500 million acquisition of ShowingTime has been in the works for several months, despite FTC lawyers claiming in June there were no issues. The Information reports FTC Chair Lina Khan isn’t satisfied, however, and is asking both companies for more information.

The agency previously told the two companies the acquisition could proceed, but authorities would continue to probe the deal. Zillow and ShowingTime were poised to close the deal by the end of September — when FTC staff said Khan would likely sign off — and reportedly plan to close the deal soon regardless of the continuing probe.

The agency this week told the companies it would likely issue additional subpoenas to both companies down the line, a person with knowledge of the situation told the outlet.

Zillow previously defended the acquisition, telling Inman in August the two companies were working “constructively” with the FTC to address potential concerns.

One issue holding up approval is Zillow’s growing trove of real estate data. ShowingTime is a platform that coordinates home-showing schedules for almost 1 million agents and hundreds of multiple listing services. Rep. Ken Buck and Sen. Mike Lee — top Republicans on the House and Senate antitrust subcommittees, respectively — expressed concern in an August letter to the FTC the acquisition will give Zillow too much control in the iBuying business.

Another related concern is how Zillow shows its listings. The company is already facing an antitrust lawsuit from Rex, which says its brokers’ non-NAR listings get a raw deal on Zillow’s app. Zillow claims it is not allowed to combine NAR and non-NAR listings.

Zillow has made a number of acquisitions in recent years as it has moved to a position of strength and looked to increase its home buying in the iBuying sector through purchases of dotloop, Bridge Interactive, StreetEasy and Naked Apartments.

The company was previously under FTC scrutiny in 2015 when trying to acquire Trulia. That acquisition was ultimately approved without conditions.

[The Information] — Holden Walter-Warner





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