Senator calls Walmart’s TV acquisition a ‘warning bell’ and pushes for investigation

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized Walmart’s newly announced purchase of Vizio — an American television manufacturer — and called for an investigation into the deal.

The acquisition is a “warning bell,” Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, wrote on X on Feb. 23.

“Giant corporations are copying Amazon’s playbook: buy or kill competitors in commerce, entertainment, and advertising,” Warren added.

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The deal, announced on Feb. 20, stipulates that Walmart will acquire Vizio for $11.50 per share, amounting to around $2.3 billion in total.

The merger of the two multibillion-dollar companies is expected to boost Walmart’s U.S. media business.

“We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment,” Seth Dallaire, executive vice president of Walmart U.S., said in a statement.

But before the deal can go through, it will be subject to federal regulatory clearance — a process that prompted Warren to weigh in.

“Regulators should scrutinize whether this merger will extend Walmart’s dominance and threaten competition,” Warren said.

Warren, first elected to the Senate in 2013, has been a longtime advocate of stricter antitrust enforcement.

“After more than 40 years of lax antitrust enforcement, competition in one market after another is on life support or has been snuffed out entirely,” she said in a speech last year at the Open Market’s Institute.

Warren noted that the number of mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing by 70% in 2021.

She has called for breaking up the biggest companies in tech — including Amazon — as well as in the defense and agriculture industries.

In 2022, she introduced legislation that would ban the largest, most anti-competition mergers and revamp the government’s regulatory clearance process. The bill has yet to be voted on in the Senate.

Warren’s push to topple what she calls monopolies in the market comes as a majority of Americans, 69%, strongly or somewhat support antitrust enforcement, according to an October YouGov poll.

Representatives for Walmart and Vizio did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

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