EU Set to Clear Google-DoubleClick Merger: Sources

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is expected to receive unconditional approval from European Union regulators next week for its $3.1 billion takeover of ad firm DoubleClick (NASDAQ:DCLK), people familiar with the situation said.

The approval has long been expected because the European Commission decided in January not to object formally to the transaction. The Commission, the EU’s top competition watchdog, has never rejected a deal without sending formal objections.

Privacy advocates have objected to the deal, saying it would give the two firms unprecedented access to information about consumers. The Commission has said privacy considerations are outside the scope of its authority over mergers.

The deal would combine Internet search giant Google’s dominance in pay-per-click Web advertising with DoubleClick’s market-leading position in flashier display ads.

The planned acquisition won approval from the Federal Trade Commission in December. For the past six years, the EU has never rejected a merger approved by U.S. authorities.

The merger is part of a consolidation within the Internet advertising industry.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) bought aQuantive for $6 billion, and Yahoo acquired BlueLithium for $300 million. Meanwhile, AOL, a unit of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), purchased Tacoda for an undisclosed amount.

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