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Walmart to reportedly pause $2.3 billion Vizio acquisition

The proposed Walmart-Vizio merger is undergoing more review.

Walmart Inc. is reportedly giving the federal government more time to review its proposed $2.3 billion purchase of smart TV maker/streaming platform provider Vizio.

The discounter initially announced it would purchase Vizio for $11.50 per share in cash, in a deal valued at approximately $2.3 billion, on Feb. 20, 2024. Now, Reuters reports that following "informal discussions" with federal regulators from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), Walmart withdrew what is known as a Hart-Scott-Rodino notification on Wednesday, March 27 and plans to refile it on Friday, March 29.

The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 requires that the FTC and DOJ receive 30 days to review and potentially block large mergers and acquisitions for possible antitrust violations. 

Walmart’s initial Hart-Scott-Rodino filing was set to expire on Friday, March 29, 2024. A refiling would extend the federal review period to Monday, April 29, 2024. If the transaction is approved, Vizio’s business will be reported as part of the Walmart U.S. segment and the company’s class A common stock will no longer be publicly listed.

See more Reuters coverage here.

Walmart seeks to boost targeted ad business 

By acquiring Vizio and its SmartCast operating system (OS), Walmart would create new opportunities to help advertisers connect with customers, as well as offer new connected TV and streaming content for consumers.

The potential deal comes as Walmart competes with Amazon's growing and lucrative ad business. Vizio’s device portfolio and its Smart TV operating system, SmartCast, has more than 18 million active accounts. 

The company says its Vizio platform, which has more than 500 direct advertiser relationships now accounts for a majority of its gross profit.

"We believe Vizio’s customer-centric operating system provides great viewing experiences at attractive price points," Seth Dallaire, executive VP and chief revenue officer, Walmart U.S., said when the proposed acquisition was first announced. "We also believe it enables a profitable advertising business that is rapidly scaling. Our media business, Walmart Connect, is helping brands create meaningful connections with the millions of customers who shop with us each week. We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment."

Walmart Connect – a brief history

Launched in 2021 as a revamped version of the Walmart Media Group, Walmart Connect is designed to enable advertisers to drive more effectiveness with their overall media spend. It offers advertisers the ability to serve personalized, time- and context-specific ads across customer touchpoints including media placements on in-store TV walls and self-checkout screens, Walmart digital properties, mobile devices and corporate events.

In September 2023, Walmart began offering premium sponsored search placement via a new sponsored videos program to all Walmart Connect advertisers that are brand-registered in the Walmart Brand Portal. According to Walmart, Walmart Connect grew 30% for fiscal year 2024.

Based in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries.

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