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Feds likely to oppose Google mobile ad deal, says report

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The US Federal Trade Commission is likely to oppose Google's acquisition of mobile ad outfit AdMob after requesting sworn declarations from Google competitors and advertisers, according to a report citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Bloomberg reports that at least two companies have been asked to sign statements that include information they gave to the FTC regarding the proposed $750m deal. The FTC is investigating whether the deal would hamper competition in the fledgling mobile ad market.

In November, Google announced that it had agreed to acquire AdMob for $750m in stock, a figure that would make it Google's third largest acquisition to date. AdMob runs an ad exchange that handles application banner ads for the iPhone and other mobile handsets, whereas Google's chief mobile business involves search ads.

IDC estimates that the AdMob deal would give Google a 30 to 40 per cent share of mobile ad market.

In December, Google told the world that the FTC had deepened its investigation of the deal, though Mountain View downplayed the development and said it was still confident the acquisition would be approved. "As we said when we announced the deal, we don't see any regulatory issues with this deal, because the rapidly growing mobile advertising space is highly competitive with more than a dozen mobile ad networks," the company said.

"That said, we know that closer scrutiny has been one consequence of Google's success." In statement tossed at Bloomberg today, the company reiterated that it believes the FTC will ultimately give its approval.

The deal is somewhat analogous to Google's $3.1bn acquisition of desktop banner ad giant Doubleclick. The FTC also reviewed DoubleClick deal, before giving it the stamp of approval in late 2007, but the commission is now part of a new presidential administration. If the FTC is collecting sworn declarations, it's doesn't necessarily mean it's planning to challenge or change the deal, but it may indicate the commission sees this as a possibility. ®

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