Google may soon settle the three-year antitrust investigation into its Search business in Europe, Reuters has exclusively learned, as the company has made additional concessions in the case in a third offer for the regulator. Two weeks ago, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia asked Google to promptly come up with a new offer, after its previous concessions were deemed to be unacceptable.
According to a senior European Union official familiar with the matter, the Google case may be settled in the following days or in a couple of weeks at the latest, with the Search giant escaping a potentially brutal outcome for its business, a fine that may have amounted to as much as $5 billion.
The new proposal is “much better,” the official said, and EU regulators will not look for feedback from 125 Google rivals including Microsoft, as “they have a clear idea of their thinking after the last two market tests,” Reuters says. Microsoft and other companies have recently conducted a study showing that Google’s previous concessions were not acceptable.
It is not clear what Google’s new concessions are. In its second offer, Google promised it would display logos from rival services in a prominent box on its search pages, alongside appropriate links and that it would make it easier for advertisers to move their campaigns to competing ad platforms including Yahoo and Bing.
Google has successfully settled a similar antitrust investigation in the U.S., in a deal with the Federal Trade Commission last January, after a 19-month investigation. The FTC did not find Google to have manipulated its Search results.