November 21, 2007 4:00 AM PST
Google-DoubleClick: Tough sell in EU
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"It's quite possible that the FTC will decide whether to challenge the deal before (the Commission's deadline of) April 2," Vinje said. But "the Commission will do what it believes European antitrust law to require, whether the FTC challenges the deal or not."
The FTC and the European Commission declined to comment. DoubleClick declined to comment on whether it has complied with the FTC's request for more information. Meanwhile, Australian and Brazilian regulators have approved the deal.
In a previous statement, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company will continue to work with the Commission to demonstrate how its DoubleClick acquisition could benefit publishers, advertisers, and consumers. The company also noted it remains "confident" the FTC will determine the merger will also benefit a similar set of users.
U.S. senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), however, sent a letter (PDF) on Monday to the FTC, citing concerns that the deal would harm competition. The senators cited the dominance Google and DoubleClick have in their respective areas of the advertising market.
The European Commission, as it proceeds in evaluating the Google-DoubleClick deal, may have concerns with whether challenging the merger will ultimately be overturned by the European Court of First Instance, which serves as an appeals court.
The court has overturned the Commission before on its merger decisions. Previously, the Commission gave the green light to the Sony and BMG merger, only to have third parties appeal the deal to the Court of First Instance and have it overturned, said David Anderson, a partner in the Brussels office of law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner.
"The Commission is seeking to make its (merger) clearances, as well as its prohibitions, as appeal-proof as possible," Anderson said.
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