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FTC rallies lawyers over Google mobile ad pact

Antitrust challenge imminent?

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The Federal Trade Commission has put together a team of lawyers for a possible antitrust challenge to Google's proposed $750m takeover of mobile advertising outfit AdMob, according to a report citing people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the FTC has also passed its concerns over the deal to Congress, but that it has not made a final decision on whether it should block the pact.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that the government agency was likely to oppose the deal after, well, people familiar with the matter said that the agency had requested sworn declarations from Google competitors and advertisers.

On Tuesday, US Senator Heb Kohl - chairman of the Senate subcommittee on antitrust - sent a letter to the agency urging it to closely examine the deal. But it's safe to say his wish has already been granted.

The FTC is investigating whether the deal would harm competition in mobile advertising market. AdMob operates an application-banner-ad exchange for the iPhone and other mobile handsets - an obvious complement to Google's search ad biz. IDC estimates the AdMob pact would give Google a 30 to 40 per cent share of the fledgling and rapidly growing market. ®

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