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September 16, 2008

Neelie Kroes wants a piece of Google-Yahoo

Posted by David Hunter at 1:13 AM ET.

EU logoYahoo’s proposed deal with Google to run some Google search ads may be only for the USA and Canada, but European Union Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has apparently spotted something there to raise her hackles:

European Union antitrust watchdogs are looking into a planned deal between Internet giants Google Inc and Yahoo Inc to share some advertising revenue.

"In mid-July, we decided to open a preliminary investigation on our own initiative into potential effects of the Google-Yahoo agreement on competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) market," said Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Neelie always has her hackles raised, of course, but while I think there’s a lot of antitrust gold to be mined in Google’s stranglehold on search, the deal with Yahoo is hardly a poster child. Instead, how about a thousand examples similar to as described by Joe Nocera last Friday in the NY Times?

There’s even more Google antitrust gold in the latest whine of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) if you ignore their shortsighted view that somehow preventing the Yahoo deal will save them from Google. Reading between the lines it’s entirely clear that they currently in thrall to Google and Yahoo’s independence or lack thereof is irrelevant.

I also see that that some of the always pesky US state attorneys general have joined the Google hunt also using the Google-Yahoo deal as an excuse. Now if there exist any greater publicity hounds than Neelie Kroes, it’s this crew and they certainly aren’t going to limit themselves to odd deals with Yahoo. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Google is shortly in for a world of antitrust hurt and no one will have greater schadenfreude than Microsoft.

Filed under Advertising, Antitrust, Coopetition, General Business, Google, Governmental Relations, Legal, Microsoft

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