European regulators are on the verge of granting their approval to the proposed $3.1 billion merger between Internet giant Google and online advertising firm DoubleClick next week, according to media reports and two sources close to the transaction. The proposed buyout was announced almost a year ago; since then the two companies have been jumping through regulatory hurdles in both the United States and the European Union as regulators attempt to assess whether the merger would impede competition in the online advertising market.
Competitors in the online advertising space—including Microsoft—opposed the deal, claiming the merger would hurt competition. Privacy and consumer groups have also recommended the merger be blocked, citing concerns over the confidentiality of information Google and DoubleClick may collect about Internet users. Both companies famously profile actions of Internet users and track activity using browser cookies and other techniques.
EU regulators have been widely expected to approve the merger; if they had serious concerns, they would have formally objected to the merger back in January. However, the European Commission has stated that the consumer privacy concerns raised about the merger are outside the scope of its authority.
The United States’ Federal Trade Commission approved the merger in December 2007.
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