Google shows progress in addressing competition concerns

Says European Union's Vestager


Reuters October 08, 2018
A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich, Switzerland July 19, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

STRBSKE PLESO: Google’s proposals to increase competition in online shopping are bearing fruit, Europe’s antitrust chief said on Friday, suggesting that the company may be able to avoid further fines.

Alphabet’s Google last year offered to allow price-comparison rivals to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page, giving them the chance to compete on equal terms, seeking to appease regulators after the European Commission fined it a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for favoring its own service.

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The US company submitted a second progress report at the end of September and failed to comply with the EU competition enforcer’s order could expose it to fines of up to 5 per cent of its average daily global turnover.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she saw further improvement since Google’s first report in June showed some rivals had benefited from the company’s action.

“We had another compliance report ... and we see improvements in numbers but we are still following it very, very closely and have taken no decision yet,” Vestager told a briefing on the sidelines of the Globsec Tatra Summit.

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Google is offering discounted shopping advertisements to comply with the EU antitrust order, Baird Equity Research wrote in a September 30 note.

But some competitors in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States say Google’s changes do not go far enough, and Vestager said she was aware of such complaints.

“I take a keen interest in what some of the other shopping comparison services say. Having met with a couple of them, of course, that raises new questions for us,” she said.

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