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EC extends probe into Google/DoubleClick merger

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The European Commission is to open an in-depth investigation into the proposed $3,1-billion merger between Google and online advertising company DoubleClick.

In a statement, the EC says the proposed merger would "raise competition concerns in the markets for intermediation and ad serving in online advertising." It adds that the Commission has 90 working days – until 2 April 2008 – to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.
"After a preliminary review, the Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation into whether the proposed transaction would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it," the statement reads. "The Commission will, in particular, investigate whether without this transaction, DoubleClick would have grown into an effective competitor of Google in the market for online ad intermediation. It will also investigate whether the merger, which combines the leading providers of respectively, on the one hand, online advertising space and intermediation services, and, on the other hand, ad serving technology, could lead to anti-competitive restrictions for competitors operating in these markets and thus harm consumers."
Computerworld reports that Google is disappointed by the Commission's decision to extend its review of the acquisition.
It quotes Google CEO Eric Schmidt as saying: "We will 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 against Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others whose acquisitions in the highly competitive online advertising market have already been approved."
More information on the case will be available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/mergers/cases/index/m94.html#m_4731