EU Extends Google/DoubleClick Inquiry


European Union regulators on Monday extended the deadline for their inquiry into Web search leader Google's proposed purchase of rival DoubleClick to Nov. 13 from Oct. 26.

The time limit for a decision on the $3.1 billion deal was moved back so proposed remedies to possible competition problems could be tested, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said.

Google has proposed changes to the deal, which will be vetted with customers and competitors. Google competition counsel Julia Holtz said that in response to third-party concerns, Google had committed to the Commission that it would keep certain DoubleClick business practices unchanged.

"We believe that the deal is good for publishers, advertisers, and users -- and we trust that the Commission will reach the same conclusion and clear the transaction," she told Reuters.

DoubleClick and Google are involved in the sale of on-line ads, although their business models differ.

The deal faces vehement opposition from competitors Microsoft and Yahoo .

Competition, Privacy Concerns

Google's rivals argue that the merger poses competition and privacy concerns. But the Commission has said it may consider only competition problems.

The deal is also undergoing review by the Federal Trade Commission in the United States. Experts there have predicted it will win approval.

The European and U.S. commissions are working closely together on the review of the case.

Google's purchase is part of a rapid consolidation in the Internet ad industry that includes Microsoft Corp's $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive Inc, home to the largest interactive ad agency.

Yahoo bought BlueLithium for $300 million and Time Warner's AOL unit bought Tacoda.

Both of the acquired companies use cookie technology to record Web surfing habits of consumers so advertisers can target ads based on the information.