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Google expected to face formal European antitrust charges tomorrow


Update: the EU Commission has now filed its complaint

It doesn’t sound good for Google in Europe where the company has faced continued criticism, some comical and some less so, for using its dominant 90+% search share to give advantages to its other properties and squash competitors. FT:

Google will on Wednesday be accused by Brussels of illegally abusing its dominance of the internet search market in Europe, a step that ultimately could force it to change its business model fundamentally and pay hefty fines. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals to favour its own services, according to two people familiar with the case.

The NYTimes:

Europe’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, is expected to make an announcement that Google has abused its dominant position on Wednesday in Brussels, according to two people who spoke on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity…

“The E.U. competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, will decide what steps they want to go,” Günther Oettinger, a German politician who is charge of Europe’s digital economy, told Die Welt am Sonntag, a German newspaper, on Sunday. “I think that they will be far-reaching.”

Google has yet to comment on the matter but if Google fails to rebut any formal charges, Ms. Vestager could “levy a huge fine that could go above 6 billion euros, or $6.4 billion, amounting to about 10 percent of Google’s most recent annual revenue”.

Google stock is off 2 points today.

Image via TNW


European regulators to decide late March on Google antitrust probe

European regulators are moving early on Google antitrust probe, telling Reuters that a decision on a formal complaint against Google for misuse of its market position will be reached in late March, much sooner than expected. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told the news gathering organization late on Tuesday:

I will receive comments from the case team towards the end of the first quarter. I do not expect anything sooner. Let us see.

Since November of last year, 10 complainants such as Microsoft, VfT, Foundem, Deal du Jour, 1plusV and the Spanish Association of Daily Newspaper Publishers have filed complaints with the Commission, accusing the search giant of misusing its dominance in search. Google’s problem with EU courts could result in a multi-billion dollar fine, as had been the case with EU antitrust probes into Microsoft and Intel in the past.