FTC investigating Google-DoubleClick deal

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Grant Gross
PC World
Wednesday, May 30, 2007; 10:32 AM

Google Inc. on Tuesday confirmed that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating its proposed US$3.1 billion purchase of online advertising seller DoubleClick Inc.

Google, in a statement, said it is confident the FTC will approve the deal. Google issued the statement after press reports that the FTC started an investigation into the deal last week. The investigation comes after privacy groups filed a complaint with the FTC.

Google is confident the FTC will conclude the acquisition "poses no risk to competition," Google said in the statement.

Several independent analysts have determined that "the online advertising industry is a dynamic and evolving space ... and that rich competition in this industry will bring more relevant ads to consumers and more choices for advertisers and Web site publishers," the company said.

The company pointed to other companies' recent acquisitions in the online advertising market as evidence of competition there.

Since Google announced the DoubleClick deal, Yahoo Inc. has announced plans to acquire online advertising firm Right Media Inc. for $680 million. Earlier this month, AOL LLC announced plans to acquire ADTECH AG, an international online ad-serving company, and WPP Group announced plans to acquire online advertising firm 24/7 Real Media for $649 million.

On May 18, Microsoft Corp. said it planned to acquire of aQuantive Inc., an online advertising and marketing firm, for $6 billion.

An FTC spokesman declined to comment on the investigation, instead referring to the Google statement. The FTC will have no more immediate comments on the investigation, the spokesman said.

Google announced the deal last month. Microsoft Corp. had also pursued DoubleClick, which places online advertising for more than 1,500 clients.

On April 20, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Center for Digital Democracy, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, filed a complaint with the FTC, asking the agency to block the merger unless it obtained guarantees from Google and DoubleClick that they will protect Internet users' privacy.

The groups want a guarantee that Google will destroy all cookies and other persistent identifiers resulting from Internet searches that could be personally identifiable.


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