Google: FTC to scrutinize deal to buy DoubleClick

U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating US$3.1b acquisition

Google on Tuesday confirmed that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating its proposed $US3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick.

"We are confident that upon further review the FTC will conclude that this acquisition poses no risk to competition and should be approved," said Don Harrison, senior corporate counsel for Google, in a statement e-mailed to IDG.

"Numerous independent analysts and academics have determined after looking at this acquisition that the online advertising industry is a dynamic and evolving space -- as evidenced by a number of recently announced acquisitions -- and that rich competition in this industry will bring more relevant ads to consumers and more choices for advertisers and Web site publishers," Harrison said.

The acquisitions Harrison referred to include Yahoo's April 30 announcement to acquire online advertising firm Right Media, for $US680 million; AOL's May 16 announcement to acquire ADTECH AG, an international online ad-serving company; WPP Group's May 17 announcement that it plans to acquire online advertising company 24/7 Real Media, for $US649 million; and Microsoft's May 18 announcement that it plans to acquire aQuantive, an online advertising company for $US6 billion.

A Google spokesman said the FTC has asked Google for additional information about the deal, which it plans to provide.

An FTC spokesman said he could not comment on the specifics of the investigation.

DoubleClick did not have an immediate response to questions about the FTC's investigation.

In April, shortly after Google announced the DoubleClick deal, several privacy groups filed a complaint asking the FTC to block the proposed acquisitions unless the companies agreed to protect the privacy of online users.

"We're pleased the FTC's looking at this," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of the groups that filed the complaint. "We think there's ample precedent to establish strong privacy safeguards or to block the merger if they aren't established."

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