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Google facing likelihood of third antitrust complaint in Europe
AdWords and search-box contracts the focus of potentially impending third Statement of Objections from European Commission.
Despite the turmoil in Europe from Brexit last week, it’s business as usual for European antitrust regulators as they prepare what could be a third formal antitrust “Statement of Objections” against Google. According to Bloomberg a third complaint, surrounding Google AdWords agreements, is probably on the way:
EU officials sent the search giant’s critics requests to allow their evidence to be shared with Google, said the people, who asked not to be named because the case is private. One request was sent as recently as last week, one person said. Such a move is typically a precursor to a formal EU statement of objections cataloging how a firm may have violated EU antitrust law.
The potential charges come more than five years after the initial investigation was announced. The probe focuses on exclusivity provisions in Google AdWords and search contracts with publishers, which allegedly prohibit them from using other services.
The investigation was dormant for some time and revived earlier this year at the behest of European Commission antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager. Beyond this, Google is contending with two formal antitrust complaints in Europe, involving “search bias” in shopping search results and surrounding app pre-install rules in Android contracts.
Given the information above and the trajectory of the Commission’s moves, it appears that Google will be fighting a third antitrust battle in Europe relatively soon.
Last year Google’s made roughly $75 billion in revenue. The Commission has the power to levy fines of up to 10 percent of global revenues. And though it’s unlikely, it’s hypothetically possible that Google could soon be facing potential exposure of up to $21 billion.
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