Report: Google’s Rivals Won’t Like EU Settlement

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is reportedly getting closer to reading a deal with the European Union’s antitrust watchdog over the anti-competitive aspects of its search engine business. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google and the European Commission’s head Joaquin Almunia are close to announcing a deal despite the fact that Google’s competitors still believe Google needs to make more antitrust concessions.

Last week, sources who spoke to Reuters said that Google had submitted its latest set of concessions to the Commission and that those proposals were being reviewed without the input of Google’s competitors, who have previously had a say in the antitrust investigation. In September, Google submitted a new set of concessions that Almunia said he believed were an improvement, but when the groups representing Google’s European competitors vetoed them on the grounds that they did not go far enough, Google was told to go back to the drawing board.

Reuters’ sources said that Google submitted the updated antitrust concessions to the European Commission in mid-January after Almunia told reporters that Google had just “weeks” to resolve the antitrust investigation or face a fine of up to $5 billion. The sources said these concessions are “much better” than those previously offered by the company and that the two parties will announce they’ve reached an agreement as soon as in the next few days and no later than a couple weeks.

Now, Google’s rivals are complaining even before the settlement is announced. They know that Google and the Commission are both eager to settle the case, which has been ongoing since 2010. They also know that Almunia publicly approved of the concessions submitted back in the fall and only changed his mind when the competitors said the moves weren’t enough to stimulate a healthier amount of competition in the search engine landscape.

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