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Brussels to investigate Google ad deal

14 ноября 2007

Google’s ambitions in the online advertising business suffered a potential setback on Tuesday as the European Commission said it was opening an in-depth review of the Internet company’s proposed $3.1bn takeover of DoubleClick.

Brussels to investigate Google ad dealIn a statement, the Commission said an initial market investigation had indicated “that the proposed merger would raise competition concerns in the markets for intermediation and ad-serving in online advertising”. It now has until April 2 next year to reach a final decision.

News of the extended investigation comes as the US Federal Trade Commission nears the end of its own antitrust investigation of the DoubleClick deal, with several people involved in the case expecting a ruling before the end of the year. While even some of Google’s adversaries concede US regulators are unlikely to raise significant objections, signs that Europe may dig in its heels have raised the risks for the deal.

Pressure from Brussels increases the chances that Google will have to offer concessions before closing its purchase of DoubleClick, which dominates the market for “adserving,” or delivering ads to the screens of Internet users, according to Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus in Washington.

To meet regulatory concerns, Google has already said it would retain some of DoubleClick’s existing business practices after the deal, although it has not given further details.

Google said it was disappointed but would “continue to work with the Commission to demonstrate how our proposed acquisition will benefit publishers, advertisers and consumers”.

“We seek to avoid further delays that might put us at a disadvantage in competing fully with Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others whose acquisitions in the highly competitive advertising market have already been approved,” it said.

On Tuesday night, the Commission said one focus of the latest investigation would be whether, without the takeover, DoubleClick would have grown into “an effective competitor of Google in the market for online ad intermediation”.

The merger has been heavily attacked by some of Google’s competitors, including Microsoft and Yahoo, who argue the deal would give Google a dominant position in the burgeoning Internet advertising market.

Privacy advocates have expressed fears about the transaction, claiming Google would have too much data on users and their web-surfing habits. 

Источник: Financial Times

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