There has been a cacophony of chatter in the past couple of days about Google having designs on Akamai Technologies, whose rise in shares in after-hours trading was fueled by a single media report that went viral and wasn’t immediately shot down by either company.
Our intelligence strongly suggests such a transaction is not in play, though we expect Akamai — a Web-content-acceleration company whose stock has been beaten down severely the past 12 months — will continue to be a topic of rich rumor fodder going forward. At a minimum, the timing of an imminent Google/Akamai announcement struck us as highly awkward in light of Google policy challenges currently playing out in Washington.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) only two weeks ago asked for additional information from Google regarding its proposed $12 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the request coming on the heels of Chairman Eric Schmidt’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust. Google, moreover, is the subject of an antitrust inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission and is being watched closely by Congress regarding the protection of consumer privacy.
While we currently expect DoJ to conditionally approve the Google/Motorola Mobility merger later this year or in early 2012, the notion that Google would put another deal on the table at this time would appear politically clumsy and ill-advised.
In an ironic twist, we would expect investors awaiting Google’s 3Q11 earnings this evening to focus not on the risk of the Motorola Mobility deal being scuttled by the Obama administration but rather on the financial impact of anticipated government approval.
We also expect close scrutiny by investors on how the Internet search-advertising leader is holding up in an economic environment that remains challenging amid pre-election-year political gridlock over possible policy responses, and in a market where Google faces competitive challenges from Facebook and Apple.
— Jeffrey S. Silva, senior policy director/Telecommunications, Media and Technology ?at Medley Global Advisors LLC