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December 20, 2007

FTC greenlights Google acquisition of DoubleClick

Posted by David Hunter at 12:18 PM ET.

Despite Microsoft’s best efforts to stop Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today that they have completed their investigation and have no objections:

The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it will not seek to block Google Inc.’s proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of Internet advertising server DoubleClick Inc. In a 4-1 vote to close its eight-month investigation of the transaction, the Commission wrote in its majority statement that “after carefully reviewing the evidence, we have concluded that Google’s proposed acquisition of DoubleClick is unlikely to substantially lessen competition.”

Although interested parties have raised concerns about the proposed acquisition’s impact on consumer privacy, the Commission observed that such issues are “not unique to Google and DoubleClick,” and “extend to the entire online advertising marketplace.” The Commissioners further wrote that “as the sole purpose of federal antitrust review of mergers and acquisitions is to identify and remedy transactions that harm competition,” the FTC lacks the legal authority to block the transaction on grounds, or require conditions to this transaction, that do not relate to antitrust. Adding, however, that it takes consumer privacy issues very seriously, the Commission cross-referenced its release of a set of proposed behavioral marketing principles that were also announced today.

At the time I observed that complaining about privacy was a two-edged sword, but it turns out that swords weren’t allowed. The EU is still investigating however, so the merger isn’t a done deal.

See also FTC Staff Proposes Online Behavioral Advertising Privacy Principles.

Filed under Coopetition, DoubleClick, General Business, Google, Governmental Relations, Microsoft

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