Earlier this week smart TV maker Vizio settled an FTC charge for nefariously collecting data from its customers, but that isn’t deterring China’s LeEco from completing a $2 billion acquisition of the company.
Back in July 2016, LeEco announced a surprise $2 billion deal to buy Vizio and thus further expand its business empire, which already covers video streaming, mobile phones and a controversial smart car project. News of this week’s settlement — based on Vizio secretly collecting viewing data and selling it to third parties — was seen as a potential deal-breaker, but LeEco has denied that is the case.
“LeEco is committed to the Vizio deal and it is priority for us, the process is on the right track, please stay tuned,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. The company initially declined to comment when the FTC settlement was announced.
The company indicated, also, that the deal will require the approve of regulators in both the U.S. and China before completion. It seems certain that the data collection will at least be raised by both bodies, but LeEco seems confident that it won’t be a barrier.
More generally though, the news drew great disappointment of how companies can breach trust, particularly since Vizio hid the data collection under a dummy “Smart Interactivity” feature which did nothing but spy and gather information.
Yet, despite a backlash from consumers who own Vizio TVs and serious harm to its brand reputation, TechCrunch understands that the price of the deal is likely to remain at $2 billion as previously agreed. LeEco didn’t comment on that officially, however.
This isn’t the first time that LeEco’s U.S. business dealings have run into controversy. The company’s smart car project with Faraday Future is designed to rival Tesla, but has experienced financial issues while LeEco bizarrely unveiled its own car to rival the project which, reports suggest, was unwittingly designed by Faraday Future.