Google Moves Toward Possible Antitrust-Case Settlement, EU Says

Google Inc. has reached a “good” understanding with European Union regulators working toward a possible settlement of an antitrust probe, an EU spokesman said.

“The commission considers Google’s proposals as a good basis for further talks and has reached a good level of understanding with Google,” Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission, said in an e-mail from Brussels today. “There will soon be discussions at technical level. We hope this process will lead to remedies addressing our concerns.”

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia asked Google in May to make an offer to settle concerns that it promotes its own specialist search services, copies rivals’ travel and restaurant reviews, and that its agreements with websites and software developers stifle competition in the advertising industry.

Almunia told MLex in an interview earlier today that regulators have been “exchanging views” during recent weeks of talks on a possible settlement of the EU’s investigation into allegations that the world’s largest search engine discriminates against rivals in search results.

“So far, so good,” Almunia said in the interview.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is under growing pressure from global regulators probing whether the company is thwarting competition in the market for Web searches. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and antitrust agencies in Argentina and South Korea are also scrutinizing the company.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, said the company continued to cooperate with regulators.

Regulators asked Google to extend an initial offer to modify its search engine to cover mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers, two people familiar with the negotiations said last week.

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