EU Antitrust Body Mulls Google-Yahoo Scrutiny

16 September 2008

BRUSSELS: "The course of true love never did run smooth," as Will Shakespeare observed, although he probably didn't have Google and Yahoo in mind when he penned that immortal line. It's also unlikely he envisaged casting the US Justice Department as the Capulets or the European Commission as the Montagues.

The EC yesterday (Monday) let it be known that it is uneasy about the proposed marriage between the two internet titans – as are other naysayers such as the World Association of Newspapers and the US Association of National Advertisers.

EC antitrust regulator, the formidable Neelie Kroes, is scrutinising the alliance to see if it contravenes European competition law. If she concludes that it does, the lovers are in for a long hard ride – as Microsoft can ruefully attest (with scars to prove it).

Meantime, as is young lovers' wont, Google and Yahoo are defiant at the opposition to their betrothal. The starry-eyed pair, when they announced their engagement, said that they would allow one hundred days for regulatory consideration.

Although that period expires next week, Google said yesterday that their love won't be consummated until "early October."

The search titan also argues that regulatory scrutiny applies only to the North American markets as their union will affect only Yahoo's US and Canadian websites with no "significant effect on Europe".

Gurgles Google: "We are, of course, co-operating with the Commission and are confident that they will reach the same conclusion."

Neelie Kroes, however, would be miscast as Friar Lawrence and is unlikely to accept the role.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff