Google making DoubleClick sure

Offers concessions to allay EU concerns over takeover plan

Google has offered key concessions to the European Commission in a bid to ensure that its $3.1 billion plan to buy online advertising giant DoubleClick is cleared.

The commission — the European Union's antitrust authority — has set a Nov. 13 deadline to complete its initial investigation into the deal, but it already has raised questions about whether the takeover will create an online giant that crushes competition.

In an effort to allay EC concerns, Google has offered to guarantee that key DoubleClick business practices are not changed. Google lawyer Julia Holtz did not elaborate on specifics but insisted that it will ensure the advertising market remains competitive and innovative.

"We believe that the deal is good for publishers, advertisers and users, and we trust that the commission will reach the same conclusion," she said.

DoubleClick is the world's largest broker of online banner advertising. Its products allow customers to place and track online advertising, including search ads. Although the online advertising market is new and subject to rapid change, Google said it is confident it can allay any antitrust concerns.

Google's offer comes as rivals Microsoft and Yahoo have raised concerns that the deal will damage competition and give Google a monopoly in the $28.8 billion global online advertising market.

Yahoo head of European public policy Andrew Cecil has said that the merger will strengthen Google's dominant position in Europe. "The end result will be higher prices for Internet publishers and advertisers and less choice for European consumers," he said.

In September, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith told a U.S. Senate hearing that the deal should be blocked because it would give Google "sole control over the largest database of user information the world has ever known."