EC investigating DoubleClick deal again

European investigators have opened an in-depth investigation into Google’s $3.1 billion deal to buy online advertising company DoubleClick.

EC investigating DoubleClick deal again

The European Commission says its initial probe “indicated that the proposed merger would raise competition concerns in the markets for intermediation and ad serving in online advertising.”

As a result it has now opened a full-blown inquiry into the deal which will close on the 2 April, when the EC promises it will give a final decision regarding the proposed takeover.

It is the third such delay Google has faced waiting for an EC decision, after the European body initially promised to make its mind up on the 26 October and 13 November. The new deadline means a year will have passed since Google first announced that it was purchasing the online advertising company.

The EC was keen to stress that the fact of having opened an investigation did not prejudge its final result, however Google didn’t seem to be particularly comforted.

“We are obviously disappointed by the European Commission’s decision to extend its review of our acquisition of DoubleClick,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

“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.”

Rivals Microsoft and Yahoo are likely to be slightly more pleased, after lobbying the EC to block the deal and throwing words like monopoly around.

Google is also still awaiting a decision from the US antitrust body, the Federal Trade Commission.

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