EU opens Google-DoubleClick investigation

The EU has opened an in-depth investigation into Google's planned purchase of DoubleClick.

The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into Google's planned acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick this week, citing the deal's potential impact on the online advertising market.

An initial investigation of the market indicated that the proposed acquisition "would raise competition concerns in the markets for intermediation and ad serving in online advertising," the Commission said in a statement.

When they notified the European competition authority about the deal in September the companies claimed that their activities didn't overlap at all. Google described itself as a provider of online advertising space, and DoubleClick was described as a "supplier of technology for the delivery, management and reporting of display ads to advertisers, ad agencies and Web publishers."

However, the Commission still suspects that the tie-up could stifle competition. In its in-depth probe the regulator will investigate whether without this transaction, DoubleClick would have grown into an effective competitor to Google in the market for online ad intermediation.

It will also investigate whether the merger -- which combines the leading provider of online advertising space, with ad serving technology -- "could lead to anticompetitive restrictions for competitors operating in these markets and thus harm consumers,". The Commission said.

The Commission has until April 2 next year to reach a final decision on the deal.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently confirmed it will not intervene in Google's US$3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick.

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Paul Meller

IDG News Service
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