- Google's Russian Ad Buy Blocked On Technicality; Putin's Spanner In The Works?

Robert Andrews
Thursday, October 23, 2008; 1:07 PM

Russia's FAS anti-trust authority has blocked Google ( NSDQ: GOOG) from gaining a foothold in the country's booming online advertising business. Top-three portal Rambler in July agreed to sell its Begun contextual advertising firm to Google for $140 million. But the authorities on Thursday said Google did not provide all the necessary information to clarify financial aspects of the deal.

A translation: "(There was) no documented information about individuals that may influence the business group Google, nor a complete list of persons belonging to the group Google, including registered and/or outside Russia. The lack of complete information about the group Google does not fully reflect the effects of the transaction, but may also indicate a limitation of competition due to a decrease in the number of business entities."

It's either a cock-up (Google got the paperwork wrong) or a conspiracy (might there be those who wish to keep Russia's nascent market for domestic eyes only?). President Putin is reluctant to let the US company dominate Russia as it does elsewhere, a Rambler source told business daily Vedomosti.

Either way, it's a further regulatory blow to Google, which this month said itwoulddelay its deal to supply ads to Yahoo ( NSDQ: YHOO) after all, while DoJ negotiations continue. That's currently drawing close attention from the department and is likely to get the same from the European Commission. Rambler was due to buy from investor Finam the 49.1 percent of Begun it didn't own, then flog it to Mountain View. Google's now studying the response and considering a re-submission.


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