Google (GOOG) Out-Navigates Facebook, Buys Waze for $1.3 Billion

Google (GOOG) is close to buying mapping and navigations group Waze Inc. for around $1.3 billion, the Israeli-based Globes business newspaper reported on Sunday, citing unnamed sources.

The report comes after several months of speculation that Waze, a free app available on Apple devices and those powered by Google’s Android mobile OS, was in buyout talks with a number of tech giants including Apple (AAPL), and more recently Facebook (FB). According to Globes, a Facebook deal fell apart due to the inflated price tag and the fact that Waze was not prepared to relocate to one of Facebook’s R&D centres in Silicon Valley, New York or London ; Apple apparently never made an offer because the price was too high.

Google, on the other hand, appears to be a perfect fit. It has an office in Israel, and it has already made two acquisitions there, in contrast to Facebook, which closed most of the companies it acquired, including Israeli start-ups. That said, Israeli newspaper Haaretz speculates that the main reason Google wants to buy Waze, which arguably competes with its own Google Maps app — Waze is the second most popular map and navigation app in Apple stores, after Google’s map service — is to prevent Facebook from starting a mapping division.

The $1.3 billion price tag, Google’s fourth-largest by dollar value, is more than 40x the $30 million of financing Waze received less than year ago, three years after it was founded.

While no deal has been inked yet, several media reports suggest the acquisition is likely to be finalized in the coming days.

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