Google might settle EU antitrust probe without fine

29 January 2014
By Tereza Pultarova
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An agreement between Google and the European Commission has been said to be within reach

An agreement between Google and the European Commission has been said to be within reach

American Internet giant Google will likely escape a fine for breaching EU competition rules, Reuters has revealed on Wednesday.

The company’s practices have been scrutinised by European regulators during a three-year antitrust probe following accusations it was favouring its own products and services in search results at the expense of competitors.

However, according to Reuters's sources, Google will likely avoid  the up to £3bn fine, that would otherwise form about 10 per cent of its 2012 revenues, by offering "much better" concessions to dispel concerns over blocking rivals from Internet search results.

Two sources said to Reuters an agreement between Google and the European Commission is within reach and would most likely be announced within days or weeks. Both, the Commission and Google declined to comment.

According to available information, the Commission has previously rejected two Google’s proposals. The newest one, however, was described as "much better" by Reuters’ sources.

Google proposed it will allow its competitors including Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo to display logos and weblinks of their products in a prominent box and will allow advertisers to move their campaigns to rival platforms.

At this occasion, EU regulators will allegedly not seek feedback from the 125 rivals, including online travel services TripAdvisor and Expedia and British price comparison site Foundem, as it already questioned them regarding Google’s previous proposals.

The competitors criticised previous concessions saying they would only strengthen Google’s dominance and that the Commission would better not achieve any deal than a bad one.

Google's success in escaping an EU sanction and fines mirrors a similar outcome with US antitrust regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission in January last year ended a 19-month investigation with just a mild reprimand against the company, saying it had not manipulated its web site results and disappointing rivals and critics.

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