Exclusive: Google close to settling EU antitrust probe - sources

Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:23am EST
 
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google is close to settling a three-year European antitrust probe with "much better" concessions to allay concerns over blocking rivals such as Microsoft from internet search results, two sources said on Wednesday.

A settlement with the European Union's regulator would mean that Google, the world's biggest internet search engine, would escape a possible fine of as much as $5 billion or 10 percent of its 2012 revenue.

Such an outcome would mirror the company's success in the United States last year where it received only a mild reprimand from the Federal Trade Commission, which said Google had not manipulated its website results following a 19-month investigation.

Google and the European Commission are close to a deal and a decision is expected in the next few days or in a couple of weeks at the latest, a senior European Union official told Reuters.

A second person familiar with the matter confirmed the likely settlement.

A Commission spokesman declined to comment on whether or not a deal was close. "We are at a critical moment in the investigation," he said.

"We don't comment on rumors and speculation," a Google spokesman said in a statement.

The EU official said Google's latest proposal, its third since EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia rejected an earlier offer in October as unacceptable, was "much better".   Continued...

 
A Google logo is seen at the garage where the company was founded on Google's 15th anniversary in Menlo Park, California September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam