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Published: Tuesday, 11/13/2007

European regulator probes impact of Google's $3.1B deal for online ad tracker DoubleClick


BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Union antitrust regulators launched an in-depth probe Tuesday into Google Inc.'s proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of online ad tracker DoubleClick, saying an initial investigation showed the deal would raise competition concerns.

The EU's executive commission set an April 2 deadline by which to reach a final decision on the deal.

The deal has raised widespread concerns by Google's rivals Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. both of which fear it will shrink competition for Internet advertising.

The European Commission described Google and DoubleClick as "the leading providers" of online advertising space and services and ad-serving technology.

The EU said its extended probe would examine whether the deal "could lead to anti-competitive restrictions for competitors operating in these markets and thus harm consumers."

DoubleClick helps its customers place and track online advertising, including search ads, which Google has turned into an extremely lucrative business. Google places ads on Web pages that targeted consumers are likely to use, generating money for smaller publishers and lesser-visited pages.

The EU said a preliminary probe, launched after Google notified the EU of its bid for New York-based DoubleClick in September, found the proposed combination "would raise competition concerns."

Other advertisers have expressed concerns that the deal would leave Google in a dominant position on the Internet, while consumer advocates have cited concerns about data privacy.

Google has insisted its acquisition of DoubleClick would help expand the Internet ad market.

Google shares rose $17.97, or 2.8 percent, to $650.04 in afternoon trading Tuesday.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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