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EU preps Google-DoubleClick rubberstamp

Le anti-trust? La vie privée? Bof!

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European competition watchdogs will give Google's $3.1bn acquisition of online display ad network DoubleClick an unconditional go-ahead next week, according to reports.

The deal was approved by US regulators in December. The EU process has taken longer and been a forum for concerns over the privacy impact of lumping together the enormous databases of web activity maintained by both Google and DoubleClick.

Such worries have been put aside however because they are beyond the remit of competition commissioner "Steely" Neelie Kroes. The Commission will approve the tie-up on Tuesday, ahead of its self-imposed April deadline, the Financial Times reports.

The scrutineers got as far as a launching a "second stage" anti-trust investigation, but the approval is little surprise, as the EU has never rejected a deal already green lit in the US. It means Google will also scrutiny of the deal at the public hearing that would have been convened if the Commission had raised objections at this stage.

Microsoft has complained loudly about Google gathering monopoly power in the online advertising game. It's a fair point: the conjoined pair will now have a big lead in both display ads and Google's text-based cash cow. ®

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